MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: Deep Brain Stimulation, Evobrutinib, Hydroxychloroquine, Ocrevus and PML

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by Ed Tobias |

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Deep Brain Stimulation May Help With MS-associated Tremors

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, and in some cases, those with MS who have severe tremors, when other treatments have failed. The treatment involves implanting electrodes in the brain so that electric impulses can be used to stimulate an area of the brain involved with motor function. There are benefits to using DBS, but there are also risks.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) effectively reduces tremors in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), but may lead to worsening symptoms and speech problems, according to a review study.

While these findings support the use of DBS for treating this common, disabling MS symptom, larger studies using standardized measures of tremors would help to assess the risk-benefit profile of DBS accurately in this patient population.

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#ECTRIMS2021 – Trial Analyses Support Evobrutinib for Relapsing MS

Evobrutinib blocks the activity of the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) protein, which is involved in the activation of immune cells. By doing that, researchers hope the medication will reduce immune activity and lower the nervous system inflammation that results in MS. Research results are good so far, according to an advance report of a study that will be presented at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis. But note that this study is only in its second phase. A Phase 3 trial has not yet been announced.

Treatment with evobrutinib, an experimental therapy for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), reduced the size of inflammation-associated brain lesions in a Phase 2 clinical trial, data show.

The oral medication was also found to be generally safe and well tolerated, according to an analysis of trial data in MS and other autoimmune diseases.

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Hydroxychloroquine Shows Potential to Treat PPMS in Phase 2 Trial

Remember that medication that some thought was a miracle cure for COVID-19? It’s now being researched as a treatment for primary-progressive MS (PPMS), apparently because it can reduce the activity of the immune system. Only one medication is approved for treating PPMS, so this certainly catches my eye. If hydroxychloroquine gets to a Phase 3 trial, I’ll definitely pay attention.

Treatment with hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria medication, appeared to help slow disability progression among people with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) in a small, proof-of-concept clinical trial.

Hydroxychloroquine “is a promising treatment candidate for PPMS and should be investigated further in randomized controlled clinical trials,” its researchers wrote.

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1 Year of Ocrevus Not Linked to Higher Risk of Brain Infection PML

Since Ocrevus was approved in the U.S. several years ago, a few cases of the brain disease PML have been reported in people receiving that treatment. But most of those patients had received other disease-modifying therapies before Ocrevus, so the level of risk associated with Ocrevus by itself has been unclear. This study of 42 Ocrevus users noted: “Our results showed that [Ocrevus] therapy in [JC virus]-positive patients is safe and did not determine PML cases.” Hopefully, this will help ease the PML concerns of people being treated with Ocrevus.

One year of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) treatment does not increase the risk for a rare brain infection — called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) — in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a study suggests.

The study, “Risk Assessment of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy in Multiple Sclerosis Patients during 1 Year of Ocrelizumab Treatment,” was published in the journal Viruses.

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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.


Ben Smoke avatar

Ben Smoke

I have SPMS. I have suffered partial seizures and finally one Grand Mal Seizure before being put on Leviteraciturn for seizures. This took an MRI that connected my seizure condition to my MS. I also have essential tremor in my right hand. I am 77 and can barely walk with a cane. I say all this to let you know that I would never allow electrodes to be planted in my brain.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Ben,

I'm sorry that you've had so much trouble. It's hard for me to say whether I'd consider DBS if my condition made me a candidate for it. Everything is a risk/benefit decision and what's right for one might not be right for another.



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