Author Archives: Ashraf Malhas, PhD

Cannabinoid, Dronabinol, Seen as Long-term Treatment Option for Neuropathic Pain in Phase 3 Study

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients being treated with dronabinol, a cannabinoid, do not show signs of drug abuse or dependency, leading researchers to conclude it has potential to be a long-term and safe treatment option for neuropathic pain. The issue of pain management, specifically central neuropathic pain (CNP), in patients with autoimmune disorders…

BETACONNECT Auto-injector Helps MS Patients Stick with Treatment, Study Reports

Most multiple sclerosis patients who try Bayer's BETACONNECT auto-injector stick with their treatment, a study reports. The electronic product may overcome the problem of many patients failing to stick to a therapy  schedule because of what they consider hassles connected with injections. An auto-injector is one that patients can use to inject themselves with. A lot of MS patients take interferon beta therapies such as Avonex, Betaseron, Rebif, or Plegridy, or glatiramer acetate treatments such as Copaxone. These medicines, aimed at reducing relapses and slowing the disease's progression, are administered by injections below the skin or to muscles. Although missing doses can lead to the disease progressing, many patients skip injections. Methods that doctors use to try to increase compliance include educating patients, taking steps to manage treatments' side effects, and trying new delivery devices, such as auto-injectors. BETACONNECT, which administers IFN beta-1b below the skin, stores information that helps patients stick to their treatment schedule. This includes when they should have injections, doses. and how far below the skin to make an injection. Bayer designed BETACONNECT to be easy to handle and allow patients to customize settings such as injection depth. The objectives of the 24-week BETAEVAL study were to see how satisfied MS patients were with the BEATCONNECT injector and whether they would stick to using it. The final analysis covered 143 Germans with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis or with clinically isolated syndrome. Researchers said patients' median age was 40 years, with a range of 21-79, and 69 percent were women. The research team checked patients at four, 12 and 24 weeks. Ninety percent were still using the BETACONNECT injector at four weeks, 86 percent at 12 weeks and 75 percent at 24 weeks. The rate at which patients were sticking with their treatment was lower at four weeks — 81 percent — than their BETACONNECT use rate. But it was higher at 12 weeks — 87 percent — and 24 weeks — 81 percent. Researchers said the highest participation rate at 24 weeks was among patients 40 years or older. The group that had  the highest rate of sticking with the injector was patients who had had no previous IFN beta-1b treatment. Patients were asked to rate their satisfaction with the BETACONNECT on a scale of 0 to 10. Satisfaction was high throughout the study, researchers said. Mean levels were 8.3 at four weeks and 8.5 at 12 weeks, for example. Patients had assigned a mean of 7.4 to previous injection approaches. At 24 weeks, 98 percent of patients rated BETACONNECT as user-friendly and 86 percent said they preferred it to previous methods of injection. Patients said they experienced mild to moderate pain with BETACONNECT, comparable to how they rated previous methods of injections. Thirteen percent of patients had skin reactions at week 24, with most reporting redness. Only 3.5% of patients experienced MS relapses during the trial. Overall the study shows that "most participants were very satisfied with the device, the vast majority also giving high ratings for user friendliness, feeling confident in using it and preferring it over their previously used device," researchers said. The results indicated that using the BETACONNECT could help patients stick with their IFN beta-1 treatment regimen, researchers concluded.

Evidence of Lymph Vessels in Human Brain May Offer New Insights into MS, Other Disorders

Groundbreaking evidence of the existence of lymphatic vessels in the human brain could answer the question of how the brain gets rid of waste products, and holds clear implications for neuroinflammatory disorders such as multiple sclerosis. The lymphatic system is a network that helps the body to rid itself of toxins and waste products. Lymphatic vessels, which are similar to blood vessels, transport a clear fluid – lymph – which is filtered in lymph nodes. It has long been thought that the brain lacks lymphatic vessels. However, a team of researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), building on previous research in rodent brains, recently found evidence that the brain may actually drain waste through lymphatic vessels. The researchers injected healthy volunteers with a magnetic dye called gadobutrol, which is usually used as a contrast agent to image blood vessels. They then scanned the brains of these individuals using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) under specific settings. This allowed them to view the dye within the outer layer of the brain, known as the dura. The MRI revealed that the dye was visible both as dots and straight lines, which might indicate lymph vessels. This suggested that the dye leaked out of blood vessels into the dura and were later 'picked up' by lymphatic vessels. These vessels were not seen when the volunteers were injected with another dye that does not leak out of blood vessels. Evidence of lymphatic vessels in the brain was also found in autopsied human brain tissue. Although a pair of 2015 studies had shown evidence of lymphatic vessels in the brains of mice, this is the first study that demonstrates that a similar system exists in human brains. “For years we knew how fluid entered the brain. Now we may finally see that, like other organs in the body, brain fluid can drain out through the lymphatic system,” Reich said . In addition to changing the way we think about the lymphatic system and the brain, this study lays the foundations for future research to investigate whether the function of the lymphatic system is altered in the brains of patients with multiple sclerosis or other disorders affecting the nervous system.

Dancing Doodle

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