MS Patient’s Pick of the Week’s News: Ampyra, Breast Cancer, Bourbon, Myelin, Lemtrada

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Here’s my Pick of the Week’s News published last week in Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

Ampyra Helps MS Patients Not Only Walk Better, But Feel Better Too, Study Reports

This is news of encouraging research.

Results from a Phase 2 clinical trial showed that treatment with Ampyra (prolonged-release fampridine) brought both physical and psychological benefits to patients with multiple sclerosis.

These findings, from the MOBILE study (NCT01597297), were published under the title, “Prolonged-Release Fampridine Treatment Improved Subject-Reported Impact Of Multiple Sclerosis: Item-Level Analysis Of The MSIS-29,” in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

Oral Ampyra is currently the only drug approved in the U.S. to specifically treat walking impairment in MS, a common disability in patients, after two Phase 3 clinical trials showed that the treatment resulted in consistent increases in walking speed. Treatment benefits, however, may extend beyond walking.

“Recent studies have demonstrated that the benefits of [Ampyra] may extend beyond walking speed,” the researchers wrote. Improvements in arm function, physical and cognitive fatigue, mood and quality of life were reported in [Ampyra]–treated subjects with MS, who showed improvements in walking ability … The psychological benefits of [Ampyra] were also reported in the ENABLE study.

Wow, this research found so many different improvements achieved by just one drug. Quite impressive.

MS Does Not Raise a Women’s Risk of Breast Cancer, Study Concludes

It looks as though surveillance bias may have been to blame for reports of supposed links between breast cancer and MS.

Multiple sclerosis, especially in premenopausal women, does not seem to be associated with breast cancer, as suggested in previous studies, researchers reported. And, they argue, the higher incidences of this cancer in postmenopausal women with MS may be due more to surveillance bias than true risk.

These findings were detailed in the study, “Risk of Premenopausal and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer among Multiple Sclerosis Patients,” published in the journal PLoS One.

The overall risk for cancer in MS patients is generally thought to be lower than in people without this disease, but the risk for certain cancers — like bladder cancer — is known to be higher. But research into a possible link between MS and breast cancer has yielded inconsistent results, and such an association is simply not considered as established or clear.

To investigate this risk in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, researchers evaluated data from 19,330 MS patients, included in the Swedish Patient Register between 1968 and 2012, and individually matched with 10 non-MS controls by age, gender, region of residence, and overall health at diagnosis (a total 193,458 controls).

Researchers concluded: “Some previous studies have reported that the risk of cancer is increased among MS patients who have been treated for their disease. Our results argue against a major influence of MS therapies on risk of breast cancer.”

It’s good to see researchers willing to go against previous findings.

MS Foundation Will Host Bourbon and Blues 30th Anniversary Gala on Dec. 3

If you fancy a night out at an exclusive top-drawer event that will be supporting a multiple sclerosis charity, then this could be just be to your liking.

The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, celebrating its 30th anniversary of serving the multiple sclerosis community, will host the Bourbon and Blues black tie gala on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Cocktail hour will start at 6:30 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. brings the start of dinner and dancing. Besides a cocktail reception, the event will include a bourbon bar, whiskey tasting, and silent auction.

A gala honoree is the musician and songwriter David Osmond, the recipient of the 2016 National Beacon Award. Osmond, the lead singer of the group Osmonds 2nd Generation, is an MS advocate and was diagnosed with the disease almost 10 years ago.

Sheli Muniz, an anchor with a South Florida NBC station, will be the event’s Master of Ceremonies. Dr. Ben Thrower, a renowned MS neurologist and senior medical adviser for the MS Foundation, will be the event’s honorary chair.

Tickets for the Bourbon and Blues gala can be purchased by clicking on this link. Individual registrations start at $250, tables of 10 are available for $2,000, and several options for event sponsorship exist.

Hmmm, not exactly in most people’s price range, but I doubt that the organizers are aiming to sell tickets to people like you or me.

Myelin May Hold Raw Material for Immunizing MS Patients Against Demyelination

Now, here’s an interesting development — the possibility of immunizing against demyelination.

Immunization with molecules present specifically in myelin may be a new approach to treating multiple sclerosis, according to a recent study that found that the mouse version of such molecules could stop ongoing disease processes in an MS mouse model.

The study, “Targeting Non-classical Myelin Epitopes to Treat Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis,” appeared in the journal Scientific Reports.

Current MS medications have rather broad actions on immune cells and, subsequently, a wide range of side effects. Researchers at Loma Linda University in California argued that optimally, an MS treatment should narrowly aim to prevent autoimmune destruction of myelin, without affecting immune processes that protect patients from infections and other hazards.

According to the research team, antigen-specific therapy is the way to go. Such a treatment would target hazardous autoimmune cells that react directly with myelin, and turn them into myelin-specific regulatory T-cells.

No need to get too excited about the subject of this story because it’s only based on results found in mice. It’s a long way from being available for humans.

Lemtrada Targets Circulating Innate Immune Cells in RRMS Patients

Another positive aspect of a disease modifying therapy (DMT).

Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), a humanized monoclonal antibody, is able to remodel the immune responses of innate immune cells in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), according to a recent study. This previously unreported phenotype may contribute to the benefits of the drug for RRMS patients.

The study, “Alemtuzumab treatment alters circulating innate immune cells in multiple sclerosis,” was published in  Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation.

Lemtrada targets a protein called CD52. The protein is present at the surface of certain white blood cells (key cells of the immune system called lymphocytes). After treatment with Lemtrada, the CD52-lymphocytes are targeted for destruction.

Lemtrada is an approved medicine for long-term suppression of disease activity in RRMS. Despite its effects on some cells in the immune system, including lymphocytes, how Lemtrada affects other types of immune cells in the innate immune system regarding RRMS is still questioned.

Maybe it’s me, but I have a strong distrust of any medication if manufacturers don’t know how it works.

 

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. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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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 www.50shadesofsun.com. 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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