MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: aHSCT, Skin Cancer, Spasticity, NfL Blood Test

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by Ed Tobias |

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#ACTRIMS2022 – Immune System ‘Reset’ by Stem Cell Transplant

At the University of Ottawa, autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) has been used to treat people with aggressive MS since the early 2000s, MS News Today‘s Marisa Wexler reports. This study, which reviewed 71 patients during that period, reports a pre-treatment relapse rate averaging 1.39 per year. Post-treatment, the average relapse rate was zero. Also, the post-treatment expanded disability status scale indicated no increased disability, and in some cases, there was even a slight improvement. To me, these results are stunning. More stunning, however, is that U.S. health officials continue to drag their feet in approving aHSCT treatment for MS patients.

Undergoing a stem cell transplant, a procedure that aims to “reset” a person’s immune system, can reduce relapse rates and ease disability in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), new data show.

The findings suggest that such a transplant — fully, autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or aHSCT — is most effective in patients with milder disability at the time of the procedure.

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More Skin Cancer Reported to FDA From Patients on Certain Oral DMTs

This skin cancer risk is not isolated just to some of the oral MS disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). The Lemtrada treatments I receive have a skin cancer risk as well, and Lemtrada is delivered via infusion. People treated with it are told they should have annual checkups with a dermatologist, and I assume that’s the case with a number of the other DMTs in this report.

There are risks involved with all medications. It’s up to us as patients to know what they are and, after consulting with our physicians, to make an informed risk-benefit judgment when selecting our treatments. The information reported here may help with that decision.

Multiple sclerosis treatments belonging to the class of sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulators — such as Mayzent (siponimod) and Gilenya (fingolimod) — may be associated with a greater likelihood of skin cancer, results from a real-world study suggest.

The association was the greatest for a form of cancer called basal cell carcinoma, and was also observed for Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) and Mavenclad (cladribine), although to a lesser extent. Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) also seems to increase the likelihood of melanoma.

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App Helps With Long-term Spasticity Management After Rehab

There always seems to be “an app for that,” no matter what “that” is. This app is said to help improve spasticity, but it’s not a magic wand. It’s more like an electronic version of the typed or handwritten at-home exercises that physical therapists have been handing out for years, including a variety of daily activities, daily reminders, and motivating messages. It’s designed to be used in coordination with professional supervision, so don’t expect to be able to download it from the app store.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who experience reductions in spasticity after a four-week course of inpatient rehabilitation can sustain those improvements in the long term using an app-based self-training program, according to data from a clinical trial.

The app also led to better adherence to the self-training program than its paper-based alternative, which supports its usefulness for spasticity self-management in MS patients after inpatient treatment.

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NfL Blood Test May Help Predict MS Activity, Treatment Response

This test would be nice, especially for those of us who dislike MRIs. (Isn’t that everyone?) These researchers report that higher than normal neurofilament light chain levels were “strongly and independently” associated with “clinical and MRI measures of disease worsening or progression.” That translates to moving closer to having a blood test that can predict and track MS progression.

Levels of a protein called neurofilament light chain (NfL) in the blood can be used to predict the risk of future disease activity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new study.

The results also suggest that changes in NfL levels could be used to deduce the extent to which MS patients are responding to treatments.

“This study brings us a significant step closer to having a blood test that can predict an individual’s risk for upcoming MS disease activity and detect how well their disease-modifying therapy is working,” Robert Fox, MD, a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic, said in a press release.

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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.


Tomasz avatar


Thank you, Ed!

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

I don't know which comment of mine you're referring to, but you're welcome.



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