Author Archives: Diogo Pinto

Cannabidiol-derived Treatment for MS, EHP-101, Enters Phase 1 Safety Study, Emerald Health Says

Emerald Health Pharmaceuticals announced that it has begun enrolling healthy volunteers for a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating the safety and tolerability of EHP-101, a potential cannabidiol treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) and scleroderma. The randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study (ACTRN12618001390279p) will  investigate the safety and pharmacokinetics (how…

Sexual Problems Common Among MS Patients But Often Ignored, Study Reports

Sexual problems are a frequent but unreported symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS) that affects other symptoms patients experience with this disease, including depression, a study reports. The study, “Factors associated with sexual dysfunction in individuals with multiple sclerosis,” published in the International Journal of MS Care. Sexual dysfunction is…

Healthy Diet May Lower Risk of Developing MS, Study Finds

People who eat a healthy diet that includes foods such as vegetables, fish, eggs, poultry, and legumes may have a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), a study suggests. The study, “A healthy dietary pattern associates with a lower risk of a first clinical diagnosis of central nervous system…

Pregnancy Worsens Symptoms in MS Patients, Study Finds

Pregnancy, including successful delivery or miscarriage, worsens symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as onset of the disease, a retrospective study shows. Researchers found the same effect of pregnancy on neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD), an inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system characterized by demyelination and damage of…

Family Support and Identity Seen to Affect Depression, Mood Swings in MS Patients in UK Study

A survey of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients that looked at their sense of social identity based on their family relations — meant to help explain mood disorders like depression and anxiety seen in this population — found a clear link between the strength of family bonds and mood, a U.K. study based on that survey reports. Disease symptoms, even the stress of an MS diagnosis, are possible explanations for the prevalence of mood disorders in patients, by causing changes in the person’s self-esteem. MS patients are known to show greater evidence of mood disorders than those with other neurologic disorders, the study noted. Using a tool called the Social Identity Model of Identity Change (SIMIC) to pose questions,  the researchers surveyed 195 people who either were being treated in the neurology department at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust or were recruited via the MS Society's research webpage. Participants’ mean age was 48, and 72.3 percent were women. According to the study, the SIMIC  "model suggests that maintaining group membership and taking on new identities after a life-changing transition can protect against the negative effects of identity change." Questions investigated if family identity could predict mood in MS patients, as the family is a key social group and one that can help in reconstructing identity after a diagnosis, and in providing social support. The researchers also tested if this prediction was due to the social support and connectedness to others, as defined by the SIMIC model. Answers regarding family identity, family social support, connectedness to others, and mood were was measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Results showed that family identity could predict mood in MS patients through mediators of family social support and connectedness to others, including the willingness to join new social groups. "Family identity was found to be significantly positively correlated with family group social support and willingness to join new groups and negatively correlated with mood," the researchers wrote, adding "the family and the wider social context should be considered in relation to low mood in people with MS." Based on the results, the team believes that “involving the family in the early stages of diagnosis and treatment of MS could increase support for the individual and reduce the high prevalence of mood disorders."

HPV Vaccine Not Seen to Raise Risk of Autoimmune Disease in Canadian Study

Girls given the quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV4) vaccination, commercialized as Gardasil, showed no increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new Canadian study. The time since vaccination and the number of vaccine doses given also did not correlate with diagnoses of such disorders, supporting…

European EMA Confirms Severe Risks Associated with MS Medicine Zinbryta

A review of data concerning the multiple sclerosis (MS) medicine Zinbryta (daclizumab) confirmed its association with the risk of developing severe and potentially fatal immune reactions in the brain, liver and other organs, according to the European Medicines Agency‘s (EMA)’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC). Zinbryta…

Sativex Can Improve Driving Ability of MS Patients, Study Says

Sativex, a cannabis-based anti-spasticity medicine commercialized as oromucosal spray by GW Pharmaceuticals, improves the driving ability of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to researchers. The findings were published in the journal Brain and Behavior, in a study titled “The influence of THC:CBD oromucosal spray…

Two Factors Lead to Better Outcomes when Disease-modifying Therapies Stopped, Study Finds

A lot of people with multiple sclerosis take disease-modifying therapies to reduce the inflammation associated with the disease — but in many patients, the treatments' effectiveness wanes at a certain points. When that occurs, the question is whether to stop taking these treatments, known as DMTs. A study reports that patients' outcomes are better if they discontinue the treatments when they are over 60 years of age and when their doctors advise them to stop. The research, “Discontinuation of disease-modifying therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis over age 60,” appeared in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal. By targeting the immune system, DMTs decrease inflammatory activity. But over time, inflammation decreases on its own. Some patients start to accumulate disabilities gradually, regardless of relapses and with no apparent inflammatory activity. Researchers believe that at this point the inflammation caused by MS ceases and other mechanisms drive the disease's progression. This raises the question of whether to continue taking DMTs. A patient's age and their doctor's advice should be considered when making this decision, researchers said. Studies have shown that both the frequency of relapses and the immune system's  functioning decrease with age. In addition, treatment patterns vary. A key reason is that there are no guidelines that doctors can use when treating patients over 60 with DMTs. Researchers decided to look at DMT discontinuation rates in patients over 60. The research included comparing physician- and patient-reported outcomes in those who stopped the treatment. Thirty percent or 178 of the 600 patients in the study stopping taking DMTs. Those who discontinued treatment were 2.2 years older than the others. They also had MS 3.2 years longer but had been treated 1.6 years less. Researchers used two outcome measures — patients' scores on performance scales (PS) and patient health questionnaire-9 (PHQ9). Lower PS and PHQ9 indicate better outcomes. Doctors were the driving force behind 68 percent of the treatment discontinuation cases. Among those who stopped treatment, relapsing-remitting MS patients had lower PS than primary progressive patients. Also, physician-initiated discontinuation was linked to lower PS than patient-initiated discontinuation. PHQ9 scores appeared to be higher in patients who discontinued intravenous DMTs, including Tysabri (natalizumab) and Novantrone (mitoxantrone), compared with those treated with interferons. After stopping treatment, 10.7 percent of the patients went back on DMTs. Researchers found DMT discontinuation more successful when a patient's age, and not just disease stability, was taken into account. They also discovered that patients who stopped taking DMTs on their doctor's advice fared better than those who stopped on their own. "Most patients over age 60, who discontinued DMT, remained off DMT," the researchers wrote. “We hope that these results drive the discussion toward understanding the changes occurring with age in MS patients.” "This study can also offer some reassurance when considering DMT discontinuation in older MS patients," the team concluded.

MS Patients Are Among the Most Satisfied with Their Healthcare, Surveys Show

Multiple sclerosis patients are among those with debilitating diseases who are most satisfied with their healthcare, two surveys indicate. Others who are satisfied include people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s, according to the questionnaire-based PatientsLikeMe research. In contrast, people with fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder…

Pain Affect in MS Associated with Physical and Psychiatric Comorbidities

Physical and psychiatric comorbidities in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are associated with an increased risk of experiencing more pain — namely pain intensity and pain affect. The research to support that finding, “Psychiatric and physical comorbidities and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis,” was published in the Journal of Pain…

Novartis, Pear Collaborating on Digital Therapeutics to Treat MS, Schizophrenia

Novartis and Pear Therapeutics are joining forces to develop novel prescription digital therapeutics to treat patients with schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis (MS). Digital therapeutics are software applications designed to treat diseases and improve clinical outcomes for patients. Combining Novartis’ expertise in biomedical research and clinical development with Pear’s…

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