MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: COVID-19, UK ‘Mega-trial’, Pilates, Rituximab

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by Ed Tobias |

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Certain Factors Worsen Outcomes in MS Patients With COVID-19

The worse your MS disability is, it seems, the worse the outcome if you’re infected with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. If you’re still debating whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine, this might help you make up your mind.

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have more extensive mobility issues are more likely to have worse outcomes from COVID-19, a new study indicates.

The study findings also indicate that COVID-19-associated outcomes are worse among MS patients who are Black, older, have heart-related diseases, and who were treated with corticosteroids close to the time they were infected.

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UK ‘Mega-trial’ Testing Multiple MS Therapies to Start This Year

There seems to be quite a bit of buzz about this upcoming trial. If you’re like me, you’ve been treated with a number of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) over the years without the possibility of comparing them head-to-head. That information would have been useful when making my treatment decisions.

Researchers haven’t yet selected the first three DMTs to compare, however. Will they compare an injection, a pill, and an infusion, or will they select three treatments in the same category, such as Tysabri, Ocrevus, and Lemtrada? I hope they choose the latter.

Doctors in the U.K. are planning a “mega-trial” to investigate several marketed therapies — at the same time — as potential treatments to halt the progression, or even reverse the disabilities, of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The world-first Octopus trial, named for its various arms, will enable researchers to concurrently assess multiple MS treatments, potentially advancing their development three times faster than if they were tested in separate trials.

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Pilates Helps Men With MS Gain in Balance to Lower Fall Risk, Study Finds

I’m a Pilates fan. I worked with a Pilates instructor for a number of months several years ago. The combination of yoga, stretching, and resistance exercises helped my mobility. There’s just one catch: It’s expensive. I think the cost was about $75 a session, and I really needed to do one session each week to see sustained benefit. That cost added up quickly, and it wasn’t covered by my insurance, so I had to quit. By the way, while this study was limited to men, I bet the same improvement also would be found with women. 🙂

Pilates, done regularly, can significantly improve balance and posture in men with multiple sclerosis (MS), helping them to avoid falls and the injuries they can bring, a small randomized trial in Iran reports.

The study, “Effect of twelve weeks pilates training on functional balance of male patients with multiple sclerosis: Randomized controlled trial,” was published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.

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Rituximab Fails to Lessen Brain Inflammation in Progressive MS Trial

When rituximab is used to treat MS, doctors infuse it into the bloodstream. But it doesn’t easily pass from the circulatory system into the central nervous system. These researchers had hoped that by injecting the medication directly into the spinal canal, it might pass through the blood-brain barrier more easily, thereby reducing inflammation and improving symptoms. Unfortunately, disability and fatigue scores remained unchanged following the treatment.

Injecting rituximab — a cancer therapy sometimes used in multiple sclerosis — into the spinal canal of people with progressive forms of MS did not demonstrably lower inflammation or improve clinical conditions, according to the results of a small trial.

“Contrary to the initial high expectations, no clear-cut effect on any biological … parameter has been obtained,” the researchers wrote.

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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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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