Patricia Silva, PhD, director of science content —

Patrícia holds a PhD in medical microbiology and infectious diseases from the Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands, and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisbon, Portugal. Her work in academia was mainly focused on molecular biology and the genetic traits of infectious agents such as viruses and parasites. Patrícia earned several travel awards to present her work at international scientific meetings. She is a published author of several peer-reviewed science articles.

Articles by Patricia Silva

Multiple Sclerosis Centers Consortium Develops Healthcare Associate Certification Exam

The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) has developed a Multiple Sclerosis Healthcare Associate (MSHA) Certification Examination for all non-licensed, educated and trained medical personnel working in multiple sclerosis (MS). The MSHA Certification Examination provides formal recognition of a specialized body of knowledge felt to be necessary to provide optimal…

Deep-brain Stimulation May Offer Way of Treating Fatigue in MS Patients, Pilot Study Finds

Deep-brain stimulation, a non-invasive way of targeting neurons in the cortex, can significantly ease symptoms of fatigue in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, research drawn from a clinical trial suggests. These results, published in the journal Neurology: Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation, are in an article titled “Safety and preliminary efficacy of deep…

#ACTRIMS2018 – Relapsing MS Patients With Impaired Vision Improved on Ocrevus, Updated Trial Data Show

Ocrevus improved vision among relapsing multiple sclerosis patients who participated in the Phase 3 clinical trials of the treatment, according to updated analyses recently presented at the ACTRIMS Forum 2018. While Ocrevus-treated patients improved their ability to read low-contrast letters over the course of the two trials, people who received Rebif (interferon beta-1a) did not. Laura J. Balcer, a neurologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, shared the data in a presentation titled, “Effect of Ocrelizumab on Visual Outcomes in Patients with Baseline Visual Impairment in the OPERA Studies in Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis.” Balcer had earlier shared data on the visual outcomes of relapsing patients in the OPERA I and OPERA II Phase 3 clinical trials of Ocrevus at the 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting in Paris, last year. The two studies — sponsored by Ocrevus developer Genentech, a member of the Roche group —  compared Ocrevus and Rebif in patients with relapsing MS. This time, her presentation focused only on patients who had visual impairment when they enrolled in the trials. Among a total of 1,656 participants, 375 of those treated with Ocrevus and 373 in the Rebif group had visual impairment. Researchers tested vision using a low-contrast letter acuity test. The test is similar to an ordinary vision test, with letters of different sizes on a chart. But the low-contrast test uses gray letters — instead of black — on a white background. Researchers included charts with two shades of gray to test different contrast levels. These tests can detect reduced visual function. At the beginning of the trials, both groups performed in a similar manner — correctly identifying about 35 letters on a chart with somewhat higher contrast. After 96 weeks, those receiving Ocrevus identified on average 3.4 more letters, while Rebif-treated patients worsened by 0.5 letters — a significant difference, Balcer said. Researchers tested vision every 12 weeks. At the end of the trials, they found that 39 percent more patients in the Ocrevus groups had a cumulative improvement of at least 10 letters, compared to those treated with Rebif. At this time, 26.4 percent of Ocrevus-treated patients improved 10 letters or more, compared to 19.8 percent in the Rebif group. The difference between the groups for at least seven letters was 54 percent, with Ocrevus-treated patients performing better. Researchers believe that a seven-letter change is the minimal clinically important difference for the test. Based on the results, researchers believe that the findings demonstrate Ocrevus’ ability to reverse visual impairment in relapsing MS. The ACTRIMS Forum 2018 is being held in San Diego, California, Feb. 1–3.

Easing Blood Flow in Neck Reduces Headaches, Fatigue in Certain MS Patients, Study Shows

Removing obstructions in large neck veins reduced multiple sclerosis patients’ headaches for several years, British and Italian researchers have demonstrated. The magnitude and duration of the effect differed among patients with different types of MS, however. Researchers also found that the treatment reduced fatigue, particularly in relapsing-remitting (RR) MS patients.

Trial to Evaluate H.P. Acthar Gel Is Enrolling Patients with Relapsing-remitting MS

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals is seeking 66 participants for a clinical trial to determine the safety and effectiveness of its injected therapy H.P. Acthar Gel as a treatment for acute relapses in people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). MS relapses are flare-ups of central nervous system inflammation that damage the myelin coating that protects nerve cells. The damage disrupts the transmission of impulses between the cells, causing spikes in MS symptoms. For severe relapses that interfere with a person’s mobility, safety or ability to function, most neurologists recommend corticosteroid treatment administered intravenously or taken orally. Steroids can also be administered by injection of a gel under the skin. H.P. Acthar Gel is designed to provide extended release of steroids in the body. The trial will evaluate whether the gel is an effective treatment for RRMS patients who have been unable to recover from a relapse after receiving high-dose intravenous or oral steroids. Researchers will randomly assign participants to receive either H.P. Acthar Gel or a placebo, delivered by injection once a day for 14 days. Follow-up visits will be required at 14, 28 and 42 days. The study's main objective will be seeing whether patients' disability improves. Researchers will use a standard tool for measuring disability known as the Expanded Disability Status Scale.  Other objectives will include seeing how the therapy affects patients' fatigue, quality of life, workplace productivity, and use of healthcare resources. Participants must have a confirmed diagnosis of RRMS, be older than 18 years of age, and have experienced a relapse within 29 days of enrolling in the trial. For more information about enrollment criteria and how to participate in the trial, please contact Valerie Carvajal at (800) 556-3314 or by email at [email protected]. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society announced in an MS trial alert that Mallinckrodt will be  enrolling participants in Tucson; Fort Collins, Colo.; Tampa; Atlanta; Savannah, Ga.; Northbrook, Ill.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Kan.; New York; Cleveland; Dayton, Ohio; Dallas; Round Rock, Texas; San Antonio; Salt Lake City; Richmond, Va.; and Tacoma, Wash. Without clinical trial participation there is no way for patients to obtain new medicines or for scientists to ultimately find a cure for MS. The National MS Society encourages participation. It has developed a guide for patients who want to take part in studies called “Participating in Clinical Trials.” It covers the basics of participation, benefits versus risks, patient protection, costs and other important issues about trials.  

European Commission Approves Ocrevus to Treat RRMS, PPMS Throughout EU

The European Commission has approved Roche’s Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) for both relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) across the 28-member European Union. The commission’s move —  nearly 10 months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ocrevus in March 2017 — makes it the first approved PPMS…

Researcher Wins National MS Society Grant to Study Patients’ Emotional Processing Challenges

A $44,000 National Multiple Sclerosis Society grant will allow a researcher at the Kessler Foundation to advance her work on multiple sclerosis patients’ emotional processing challenges. Dr. Helen Genova, Kessler’s assistant director of neuropsychology and neuroscience research, has been studying cognitive dysfunction in people with various diseases, including MS. In addition to neurological problems,…

Top 10 Multiple Sclerosis Articles of 2017

Multiple Sclerosis News Today brought you daily coverage of important discoveries, treatment developments, clinical trials, and other events dealing with multiple sclerosis throughout 2017. We look forward to providing more news to MS patients, family members, and caregivers during 2018. As a reminder of what mattered most to you in…

IMPAQ Creates Health Insurer Cost Comparison Calculator for New York State Residents

IMPAQ Health has created a calculator that will help New York State residents compare the cost of hundreds of health insurance plans. The NYPlanCosts Calculator should be particularly beneficial to people with one of eight chronic conditions — multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, hepatitis C, diabetes, HIV, schizophrenia, breast cancer and…