MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: COVID-19, High-dose Biotin, MS Diets, Tysabri

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by Ed Tobias |

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Risk of Severe COVID-19 Not Raised by Immunosuppressive DMTs

Here’s the latest on whether disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) raise the risk of a person having a bad case of COVID-19 if infected with the novel coronavirus. Researchers report here that DMTs don’t increase that risk. But don’t confuse this information with indications that DMTs that continuously deplete CD20, such as Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) and rituximab, may lessen the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, which the National MS Society says still appears to be the case.

Exposure to multiple sclerosis (MS) disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), and particularly immunosuppressive DMTs, does not increase the risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19, or of dying from the disease, when adjusting for known risk factors, an Austrian registry-based study found.

These findings add to data showing no link between the use of DMTs and any higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Moreover, an increasing number of studies, including this one, have reported no association between DMTs use and a patient’s risk of developing worse disease.

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COVID-19 booster shot in UK/Multiple Sclerosis News Today/woman with megaphone announcement illustration

Canadian Patients Say Their Top Concern Is Access to MS Providers

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MD1003 Aids Walking Speed in Progressive MS, But Carries Risks

MD1003, or biotin, is a form of vitamin B. It’s readily available without a prescription, and some people with MS take large doses to treat their symptoms. This report reviewed three trials of MD1003, with patients taking 100 mg three times a day. The researchers say there may be some benefit to this, but there are also reasons to be cautious. I wouldn’t go off and try high-dose biotin without guidance from my neurologist.

High-dose biotin aided walking speed in people with progressive multiple sclerosis after 12 to 15 months as an add-on treatment, an analysis of placebo-controlled clinical trials shows.

However, the therapy failed to improve other measures of disability, and was associated with inaccurate lab test results caused by high levels of biotin in the bloodstream — which can lead to complications due to incorrect diagnoses and treatment, the researchers said.

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Swank and Wahls Diets Found to Help with MS Fatigue, Quality of Life

I’ve never been a healthy eater, but I do believe that exercise and a relatively healthy diet can play a role in improving fatigue. In fact, I plan to write a column soon about how I think a multivitamin is helping me. I’m glad to see research into these diets, but note that the National MS Society’s website says there’s no such thing as an “MS diet.” Also note that this particular research was conducted by Terry Wahls, MD, who developed the diet, along with researchers at the University of Iowa.

The low-fat Swank diet and the Wahls elimination diet reduced fatigue and improved quality of life after three months for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), a clinical trial has found.

“It’s encouraging that fatigue was reduced and quality of life improved in both groups,” Bruce Bebo, PhD, from the National MS Society, which funded the study, said in a press release. “This well-conducted study shows that a healthy diet is one pathway to restoring function in people with MS.”

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Tysabri Safe and Effective Taken Every 6 Weeks, NOVA Trial Finds

I was treated with Tysabri (natalizumab) for about seven years. Halfway through that period, when my John Cunningham (JC) virus began to rise, my schedule was dropped from every four weeks to every six. The reduction in the frequency of my infusions didn’t impact the efficacy of my Tysabri treatment, and it appeared to reduce the risk of having a progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy infection.

Tysabri (natalizumab) given every six weeks was as safe and effective over nearly 1.5 years of use as its approved four-week dosing in people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), according to top-line data from the Phase 3b NOVA study.

Tysabri is typically administered every four weeks, or about once per month. But emerging evidence indicates that less frequent dosing could maintain efficacy while lowering the risk of side effects, including the rare but serious brain infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).

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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.

Comments

Michele Stambaugh avatar

Michele Stambaugh

Great newsletters!! Thanks so much for raising awareness

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks, Michele. I'm sure your note made the day of all of us who write for this website.

Ed

Reply
Maia Marie Calloway avatar

Maia Marie Calloway

Hello, why is it that this community will not address Medical Aid in Dying? It is on the minds of many MS patients.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Maia,

I have written a few of my MS Wire columns on this subject, though I've not done so recently. I believe it's an important subject. Here's a link to one of those columns: https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/2017/06/23/ms-ocrevus-hope-and-a-suicide-postponed-colin-campbell-story/

Ed

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