MS Patient’s Pick of the Week’s News: Remyelination Drug Patent, Gut Microbiota, Statins, Cognition and Depression

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Pick of the Week's News

Quite a mixed bag in the pick of the week’s news: A drug in development, microbiota in the gut, statins and MS, DMTs and cognitive skills, and images of depression.

Endece Granted New U.S. Patent for NDC-1308, Therapy to Induce Remyelination in MS

This is a bit of an exciting story about a development that may come to fruition some years in the future.

Endece was recently issued an additional U.S. patent for its lead investigational product, NDC-1308, being developed to induce remyelination in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and prevent disease progression.

Currently in late preclinical development, NDC-1308 is designed to repair the myelin sheath of demyelinated axons (nerve fibers), a major cause of neurodegenerative disorders like MS. The therapy is specifically targeted to heal motor neuron damage, and is intended for use either as a monotherapy or in combination with other disease-modifying agents to slow progression.

We’ll have to keep our eyes on this and hope than any result of a positive nature is made available at the earliest possible moment.

Gut Microbiota Seen to Differ in People with Relapsing MS, Especially Those with Active Disease

Now here’s a piece of research in which I am pleased not to have been involved. Rather them than me!

Fecal samples from a group of people with relapsing multiple sclerosis showed evidence of a different gut microbiota than that found in healthy controls, and may be a non-genetic reason for the altered immune system responses seen in MS patients. The study, “Multiple sclerosis patients have a distinct gut microbiota compared to healthy controls,” was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Both genetic and environmental factors are known to play a role in MS. Recent studies suggest that gut microbiota, the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract, are a key environmental factor for MS.

Researchers investigated whether the gut microbiome differs in patients with relapsing MS, particularly, when compared to age- and gender-matched people serving as controls. The scientists analyzed microbial DNA extracted from fecal samples from 31 RRMS patients and 36 healthy people using DNA sequencing. They observed that RRMS patients carry a distinct fecal microbiome when compared to the controls.

Workings of Common Statin, Simvastatin, Explored in Ways Relevant to Multiple Sclerosis

Thinking of a drug that my wife takes to lower her cholesterol as a potential MS therapy is mind-boggling.

One of the world’s most commonly used medications — the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin — was found to affect the immune system in a way that can be explored to treat inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

Researchers have earlier noted that simvastatin is beneficial for MS patients. In a large study of people with secondary progressive MS, a disease stage many physicians do not treat, they showed that the drug reduced the rate of brain degeneration.

Simvastatin has been seen to halt immune-related disease processes, such as those in type 1 diabetes, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis. Exactly how the drug — developed with no such actions in mind — alters the workings of the immune system has, however, eluded scientists.

Let’s hope they can work it out.

Cognitive Skills Maintained in RRMS Patients Treated with Gilenya or Tysabri in Yearlong Study

Encouraging news for patients with cognitive issues. Long-term effects may still be unknowns, but at least this seems to be a step in the right direction

Disease-modifying therapies, a group of treatments for people with relapsing multiple sclerosis, work to stabilize patients’ cognitive functions just as they do their physical symptoms. Research, conducted over the course of a year, also reported no differences between two types of DMTs, Gilenya (fingolimod) and Tysabri (natalizumab).

The study, “Cognitive functions over the course of 1 year in multiple sclerosis patients treated with disease modifying therapies,” was published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders.

The ultimate goal of disease-modifying therapies, or DMTs, is to delay or prevent disease progression. In MS, increasing physical disability and cognitive impairment are the two disease features seen to worsen over time. While the beneficial effects of DMTs are largely established for physical symptoms, the therapies’ long-term effects on cognitive function are still contradictory. Here, researchers observed that around 75% of the RRMS patients remained stable in terms of cognitive function over the course of one year of treatment.

High Depression Rates in MS Patients Tied to Brain Inflammation in Recent Study

Although something that has never affected me, I know that many people with MS do have both anxiety problems and depression. Any improvement in understanding of this must be welcomed.

Inflammation in a brain region called the hippocampus might explain why patients with multiple sclerosis suffer from depression far more often than patients with other chronic brain diseases.

The findings, described in the report “Hippocampal Neuroinflammation, Functional Connectivity, and Depressive Symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis,” published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, suggest that targeted treatment of brain inflammation may reduce these patients’ risk of depression.

Researchers across three different U.K. institutions — King’s College London, Imperial College London, and Imanova Center for Imaging Sciences — contributed to the study, which employed two types of imaging techniques to understand the phenomenon of high rates of this psychiatric disorder among people with MS.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Ian Franks is Managing Editor of the Columns division of BioNews Services. He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media; during which he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain and uses his skills to write his own flourishing specialist MS, Health & Disability blog at Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.
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