MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: Bone Marrow Infusions, ATA188, Enhanced MRIs, Costs

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by Ed Tobias |

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Progressive MS Trial Finds Repeat Bone Marrow Infusion Safe, Feasible

Two bone marrow transplant studies are reported in this story. The first, a tiny trial of just six people, assessed the safety of this procedure, which involves harvesting cells from their bone marrow, then infusing them into the bloodstream the same day. The second, a study of about 80 people with progressive MS, is reported to be investigating the potential benefits of this procedure. While the benefits study is still underway, the safety study concludes that repeated bone marrow-derived cell therapy is feasible in patients with progressive MS.

Repeat harvesting of bone marrow cells and infusing them back into the bloodstream is safe and feasible in people with active progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), according to data from a small, proof-of-concept clinical trial.

Results were detailed in the study, “Repeat infusion of autologous bone marrow cells in progressive multiple sclerosis — A phase I extension study (SIAMMS II),” published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

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Atara Planning Phase 3 Trials of ATA188 in Non-active SPMS, PPMS

The experimental treatment ATA188 has caught the eye of people with progressive MS because it’s one of the few treatments designed for them. It’s also of great interest to everyone with MS, because ATA188 is believed to work by clearing Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) cells from the body. Recently, evidence has shown a significant link between EBV and MS. Destroying those cells could help lessen symptoms.

Atara Biotherapeutics plans to launch two Phase 3 clinical trials of its investigational immunotherapy ATA188 in people with non-active, progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Whether efforts for these trials will go forward, however, depends on positive results from an interim analysis of the Phase 2 portion of the EMBOLD trial (NCT03283826), expected in the coming months. Interim findings will also inform the optimal size needed for EMBOLD — currently enrolling progressive MS patients at U.S. and Australian sites — to meet its goals.

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New Imaging Techniques May Aid MS Diagnosis, Management

There’s no single test that can pin the tail on an MS diagnosis. An MRI scan is the most common, but it’s currently not conclusive. These researchers are developing MRI sequences that improve image quality enough to reveal tiny veins around which MS lesions tend to form in the brain. Overlapping those images with those from conventional MRI scans could show how many brain lesions contain that small vein that’s typical of MS, helping to make a firm diagnosis sooner.

The technique can be preformed by standard MRI machines and is being tested in 400 people at risk of developing MS.

Physician-researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in California, are developing brain and eye imaging techniques to improve the diagnosis and management of multiple sclerosis (MS). …

The disease “can look very different in different people, and the path to diagnosis is equally varied,” Marwa Kaisey, MD, an MS specialist and an assistant professor of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said in a press release.

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MSTOP Program in California Cuts DMT Costs and MS Relapse Rates

This study reports that early use of highly effective disease-modifying therapies can accomplish two things: lower medication costs and lead to fewer MS relapses. Leading neurologists have been saying this for years. They believe the results of treating people with MS quickly with the most effective medication possible offset the high cost of those treatments over the long run. It seems like a win-win.

Are you listening, insurance companies?

A program aimed at optimizing the use of highly effective therapies successfully lowered treatment costs and relapse rates among people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Southern California, according to a study.

“Our novel physician-led approach simultaneously reduced MS DMT [disease-modifying therapy] expenditures and the frequency of MS relapses. We know of no other health system intervention that has reduced MS DMT expenditures or improved outcomes,” 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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