#AAN2018 – Biogen Data Covers Work into an MS Blood Biomarker, Cognition and Life Quality

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by Patricia Inacio, PhD |

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Research that points to a potential blood biomarker of multiple sclerosis (MS) severity, relates cognitive difficulties to patients’ employment and other measures of socioeconomic status, and one-year results of an ongoing clinical trial are among data presentations planned by Biogen for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

This year’s AAN meeting, the group’s 70th, opens in Los Angeles on April 21 and runs through April 27.

Neurofilament light (NfL), part of the neuronal cytoskeleton or “cell skeleton,” has key roles in neuron development. Previous studies show that damage to nerve cells triggers a rise in  NfL levels in the cerebral spinal fluid and blood of patients with neurodegenerative diseases like MS, supporting its potential as a disease biomarker.

At the meeting, researchers will present data supporting NfL blood levels as a promising biomarker to monitor treatment response and help stratify MS patients according to disease severity. Using NfL levels as a biomarker could help to tailor treatments and so improve patients’ long-term outcomes.

The oral presentation, “Serum Neurofilament Light (NfL): Towards a Blood Test for Prognosis and Disease/Treatment Monitoring in Multiple Sclerosis Patients,” is scheduled for April 24.

That same day, other researchers will disclose one-year interim results of the Phase 3 EVOLVE-MS-1 study (NCT02634307) evaluating an investigational treatment in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).

The two-year, open-label clinical trial aims to assess  the long-term safety and tolerability of ALKS 8700 (now known as BIIB098) in 935 RRMS patients at sites across the U.S. and Europe.

BIIB098, licensed in 2017 by Biogen from Alkermes is an oral compound that, once ingested, is rapidly transformed into monomethyl fumarate (MMF), a compound similar to Biogen’s approved Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate).

This oral presentation, “MRI and Relapse Results for ALKS 8700 in Patients with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: 1-year Interim Results from the Phase 3,” is set for April 24.

In “Benchmarks of Cognitive Performance in a Large, Representative Patient Population,” a third oral presentation on April 26, researchers will discuss data on socioeconomic benchmarks that correlate with cognitive performance in MS patients.

Cognitive difficulties are reported in about half of all MS patients, but standards or benchmarks that might measure cognitive performance and how it relates to patient demographics, such as unemployment, assistance needs, or public vs. private health insurance, are scarce.

To address this, researchers assessed patients enrolled in the MS PATHS (MS Partners Advancing Technology and Health Solutions) — a network of 10 healthcare centers in the U.S. and Europe that leverages technology used in routine care to create high-quality data.

During routine visits, patients underwent exams that covered their disease history and a Processing Speed Test (PST), which determines the speed of brain processing.

After adjusting results for variables like age, sex, education, and disability, results showed that PST scores did correlate with the benchmarks of unemployment, daily assistance needs, and pubic Medicare/Medicaid insurance coverage.

“Clinically meaningful benchmarks of cognitive performance were identified in a large training sample and validated in a separate cohort. The PST benchmark scores correlated with socioeconomic outcomes even after adjusting for physical disability, emphasizing the relevance of cognition for meaningful MS outcomes,” the researchers wrote.

Biogen will also present data at AAN meeting regarding its work into treatments for other neurodegenerative diseases, including spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

“Biogen’s research efforts are focused on helping to improve the lives of the approximately one billion people affected by neurological disorders,” Alfred Sandrock Jr., executive vice president and chief medical officer at Biogen, said in a press release.

For a complete list of Biogen’s presentations at AAN 2018, please visit this link.

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