MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: Lemtrada, Music and White Matter, Diagnosing MS

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by Ed Tobias |

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AB Science OK’d to Start Masitinib Phase 3 Trial for Progressive MS

Many of us with multiple sclerosis (MS) have been waiting for another treatment for progressive forms of MS. I hope this brings us another step closer to one. Masitinib is an oral medication that works by blocking an enzyme essential for the activity of some immune cells that are thought to drive nerve inflammation and degeneration in progressive MS. Results from an earlier trial showed masitinib was better than a placebo at slowing disability progression in adults with primary progressive MS and nonactive secondary progressive. This new trial is expected to recruit patients at 75 sites in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Israel, and South Africa.

The French Health Authority has approved AB Science’s request to launch a Phase 3 clinical trial to confirm the safety and effectiveness of its lead candidate masitinib in adults with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) and nonactive secondary progressive MS (SPMS).

“We are very excited to initiate this confirmatory phase III study with masitinib in progressive forms of multiple sclerosis,” Patrick Vermersch, MD, PhD, the trial’s principal investigator, said in a press release. He is a professor of neurology at the University of Lille, France.

Click here or on the headline to read the full study.


Study Finds Lemtrada Safe for MS Patients With Other Autoimmunity

As someone who has been treated with Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), I know there has been concern about whether this treatment can be tolerated safely in MS patients who have more than one autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or celiac disease. In fact, concerns about the possibility of low platelet levels or kidney or liver disease led the European Medicines Agency in 2019 to consider Lemtrada to be contraindicated for people with autoimmune diseases. Could this study change that?

 Note: Some of these researchers conducting this study have financial ties to Sanofi-Genzyme, the manufacturer of Lemtrada.

Other autoimmune conditions, particularly those characterized by the presence of anti-TPO antibodies, should not preclude patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) from receiving treatment with Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), according to an analysis of pooled data from clinical trials and post-market data.

The study, “Autoimmunity and long-term safety and efficacy of alemtuzumab for multiple sclerosis: Benefit/risk following review of trial and post-marketing data,” was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

Click here or on the headline to read the full story.

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Being a Lifelong Musician May Protect Brain From Damage of Aging

This study looked at eight adults, ages 20 to 67. All had played piano or violin since childhood and were still playing, sometimes for as many as nine hours a day. The researchers used a special MRI technique to assess the integrity of the brain’s white matter in their subjects. They found that the integrity remained high in areas of the brain associated with musicianship, even though it normally would decrease with age. Are you a longtime musician who feels playing has had an impact in this area?

Being a lifelong musician can help protect certain tracts of the brain’s white matter from damage during aging, potentially warding off conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or dementia for years.

That’s according to the study, “Effects of Lifelong Musicianship on White Matter Integrity and Cognitive Brain Reserve,” published in Brain Sciences.

Click here or on the headline to read the full story.


New Machine Learning Algorithm Could Help in Diagnosing MS Sooner

We know that MS is difficult to diagnose, which sometimes can take years. Wouldn’t it be nice if neurologists had another tool to help with the diagnostic process? But it’s not easy to design a diagnostic algorithm. Most of them sort data, but don’t take into account what the data actually mean, biologically or clinically. These researchers think they’ve found a way around that problem.

A new machine learning algorithm designed to analyze healthcare records could help in diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS) sooner by identifying patients’ symptoms earlier.

The algorithm, devised by scientists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), was described in a study titled “Embedding electronic health records onto a knowledge network recognizes prodromal features of multiple sclerosis and predicts diagnosis,” published in JAMIA

Click here or on the headline to read the full story.


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.


Anthony Hoysted avatar

Anthony Hoysted

I've been involved with both music and languages all my life, and it may have contributed to me not experiencing MS symptoms until sometime in my 50s and diagnosed at age 64. My work was teaching English as a second language, which took me to three non-English-speaking countries to live, so I had to deal with on-the-ground communication in a foreign language myself.
I've played the flute or sung in a choir for most of my life. Apart from any effect on my brain, it has been just very pleasurable.
Now that MS (and old age) are taking their toll, I'm having to reassess what I can do to continue these interests. Physical limitations make travelling to an overseas country difficult or impossible, so I've recently been teaching myself Latin, on the basis that travelling to ancient Rome is an experience in the imagination for everyone. The top half of me is still working reasonably okay, so I can still play the flute somewhat, and I'm investigating ways I can link up with like-minded people despite having difficulties with mobility and the ususual bladder and bowel issues.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for sharing all of that. I firmly believe that my hobbies, particularly ham radio using Morse code, have help my overall brain health. I was still traveling internationally in my mid-60s and my scooter and I would still be doing it, were it not for COVID. Italy is a favorite...though seeing the ruins of Ephesus, Turkey was amazing.



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