The MS Wire - A Column by Ed Tobias

Florida, MS biomarker, Lemtrada, nasal spray

Diagnosed with MS at age 32 in 1980, Ed has written the “MS Wire” column for Multiple Sclerosis News Today since August 2016. He presents timely information on MS, blended with personal experiences. Before retiring from full-time work in 2012, Tobias spent more than four decades in broadcast and on-line newsrooms as a manager, reporter, and radio news anchor. He’s won several national broadcast awards. As an MS patient communicator, Ed consults with healthcare and social media companies. He’s the author of “We’re Not Drunk, We Have MS: A tool kit for people living with multiple sclerosis.” Ed and his wife split time between the Washington, D.C. suburbs and Florida’s Gulf Coast.

She Has MS, She Voted for Obamacare, and She’s Worried

Donna Edwards has multiple sclerosis. Edwards is currently unemployed. But a year ago she had a well-paying job with excellent medical benefits. Edwards was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In fact, she represented the congressional district where I once lived. (Courtesy of former U.S.

Researchers Working on a Band-Aid to Replace Shots

How cool is this? Though it's not yet related to multiple sclerosis, researchers are developing a Band-Aid-size patch that can inoculate someone with the flu vaccine. The patch is made up of 100 solid, water-soluble microneedles that are just long enough to penetrate the skin. They’re contained in an area about the size of a dime. Adhesive helps the patch grip the skin during the administration of the vaccine, which is encapsulated in the needles and is released in about 20 minutes, as the needle tips dissolve. The patch is then peeled away and discarded like a used bandage strip. The researchers, working at Georgia Tech and Emory University, report that in their Phase I clinical trial the patch was just as effective in generating immunity against the flu as the traditional flu shot. They believe the microneedle patch can save money because it is easily self-administered, it can be transported and stored without refrigeration, and it’s easy to dispose of without needing a sharps waste container. Above all, says principal investigator Nadine Rouphael, MD, of the Emory University School of Medicine, “having the option of a flu vaccine that can be easily and painlessly self-administered could increase coverage and protection by this important vaccine.” Now, I don’t want to jump the gun. Although the researchers are working to develop these microneedle patches for use with other vaccines, including measles, rubella and polio, they’ve only completed the first phase of their clinical trials. They’re now planning a Phase 2 trial with more participants. Whether MS drugs might, someday, be administered this way is anyone’s guess. But, it certainly would be nice if one day, instead of jabbing yourself in the thigh for your scheduled MS shot, you could deliver your MS medication by just putting a Band-Aid on your skin.

My Lemtrada Journey: A 6–Month Report

It’s been a little over six months since I completed Round 1 of my Lemtrada infusions, so it’s time again to ask myself, “How am I doing?” The answer: I’m not sure. For many years, my brain MRI has remained unchanged. I can’t remember the last time…

Ocrevus, Hope, and a Suicide Postponed

Several months ago, I wrote a column about Andrew Barclay. Barclay died in an assisted suicide in December. He’d had multiple sclerosis for many years. Colin Campbell is a 56-year-old MS patient who lives in Inverness, Scotland. He also wanted to die. In fact, he was scheduled…

Hyping MS Headlines Is Uncool

Once again, over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been blasted with headlines trumpeting a new MS discovery. Last month there were headlines about an inexpensive acne drug that supposedly could be used to reduce the symptoms of early MS. This month it’s headlines about a “cure”…

My Opportunity to Speak with ‘Big Pharma’

I was in Boston last week at the headquarters of Sanofi Genzyme. Yes, the big drug company. They brought together several people they consider to be “digital influencers” to pick their brains about what’s on the minds of people like you, who read what we write. Sanofi…

Jumping to Conclusions About a MS Treatment

Those of us with multiple sclerosis are always on the alert for new treatments. So, when a common, inexpensive and easy-to-administer drug recently appeared on the radar as a possible MS treatment, it wasn’t surprising that dozens of social media folks jumped to relay word of it. Their…

An ‘MS House’ That Lets You Walk in My Shoes

(Photo by Andreea Antonovici) A few months ago, I wrote about a bicycle that mimics the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Now, I’ve discovered that there’s an “MS House” that allows a healthy person to experience some of what life is like for someone who lives with MS.

Speak Up to Keep the Cost of MS from Costing You More

I’ve just been reminded, as someone with multiple sclerosis, how fortunate I am to have good medical insurance. Unlike most other countries, where medical care is a right, in the U.S. that care is a privilege. Here the quality of care and too often the availability of that…

Would You Share Your Info with an MS App?

A smartphone app has been designed to collect lots of information related to your multiple sclerosis – things such as physical and cognitive test results, MRI images, and even genetic data. The hope is that via the app researchers will be able to collect a lot of patient data…

An MS Garden Grows in Derby

Those of us with multiple sclerosis know how difficult it is to describe our journey. Words frequently are inadequate for that task. But, at Derby College in England, horticulture students and their instructors have found a way. They’ve teamed up with local MS Society branches to create a 30-foot-by-40-foot garden…

3 Travel Tips for Easier Flying with MS

It’s the time of year for travel here in the U.S. Graduations, weddings and vacations are on all of our calendars. Air travel, in particular, can be a real pain for someone with a handicap such as multiple sclerosis. Security, aircraft seats and legroom are all becoming increasingly…

Cholesterol Medication Shows Promise as MS Treatment

I’ve been taking a statin drug for years to keep my cholesterol low, and it’s doing a really good job. Now, there’s hope that this class of drug also might be useful for MS patients. A major trial in the U.K. is testing the drug simvastatin (used to control…

About America’s Healthcare Puzzle

There’s been lots of chatter on social media since the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure last week that’s intended to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) and replace it with a new healthcare law. Lots of us with serious medical conditions are: a) worried, b) angry,…

NYC Subways: A Tough Ride With MS

Have you ever been on a New York City subway? I grew up in the Big Apple, and I used to love riding the subway as a kid. I’d travel all over the city without a problem. Not so today. Not so since MS changed my track.

Small Study Shows Unexpected Reversal of Some MS Symptoms

I don’t usually write about drug studies, especially ones that are tiny and preliminary. But an unexpected result has peaked my interest in this one. Researchers at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia report that half of the progressive MS patients in their study of…