MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: Vitamin D, Brain Health, Digoxin, Natalizumab

Columnist Ed Tobias comments on the week's top MS news

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by Ed Tobias |

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No Link Between MS Severity, Vitamin D-related Mutations: Study

Several studies over the years have indicated that there could be a link between a person’s vitamin D level and the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). This study is slightly different. Researchers looked at whether genetic variations related to vitamin D are associated with differences in MS disease severity. The answer is no, but I’ll continue to follow my neurologist’s advice and take a vitamin D supplement every day.

A number of genetic variations related to vitamin D metabolism were not significantly associated with the severity of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent study.

The study, “Role of Multiple Vitamin D-Related Polymorphisms in Multiple Sclerosis Severity: Preliminary Findings,” was published in Genes.

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Intermittent Fasting in MS Leads to Immune Cell, Metabolic Changes


‘Brain Healthy Lifestyle’ May Help Prevent Disability Progression

My neurologist likes to say, “Time is brain.” By this she means that if MS isn’t treated quickly and effectively, the brain’s ability to cope with the illness decreases. But, as this study indicates, that treatment should include more than just medication. I agree — I think lifestyle factors, such as physical and cognitive activity, have had an impact on controlling my MS.

Leading a healthy cognitive and physically active lifestyle, including having a normal body weight and well-controlled blood pressure, may increase brain reserve — the brain’s ability to adapt after damage — and delay disability progression in multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new study.

The study, “Lifestyle factors in multiple sclerosis disability progression and silent brain damage: A cross-sectional study,” was published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.


Heart Medication Digoxin Helps With Remyelination in Early Study

I’m including this story — even though it’s a mouse study — because digoxin is a common heart medication. (More than 2.6 million prescriptions are written each year for digoxin in the U.S.) One member of the MS News Today Facebook group asked if anyone with MS is using digoxin. I’ll bet someone is. Are you out there?

Digoxin, an approved medication for certain heart conditions, promoted the repair of myelin — the protective sheath around nerve fibers that is progressively lost in multiple sclerosis — in mouse models of the disease, a study reports.

Combining digoxin with an experimental immune-modulating therapy was more effective at promoting myelin repair, or remyelination, than either treatment on its own.

“We are planning a phase 1 trial of digoxin in MS patients with currently approved disease-modifying therapies,” the researchers wrote.


Natalizumab, Biosimilar of Tysabri for Relapsing MS, Under FDA Review

A biosimilar is a biological medicine that’s similar in terms of quality, safety, and efficacy to a previously approved brand-name medicine. It’s usually less expensive because its development generally requires less time and money. I’d guess a biosimilar for Tysabri would be very popular.

This application for natalizumab proposes the same four-week infusion schedule with a 300 mg dose. If approved, it’s expected that the same requirements will be in place as for Tysabri to address a higher risk of a serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to review an application requesting that Polpharma Biologics‘ natalizumab, a biosimilar of Tysabri, be approved to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Its intended U.S. use is for the same indications as the approved name-brand medicine, covering clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), and active secondary progressive MS (SPMS), as well as Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition.

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.


George avatar


I think all these drugs are not good for MS. I myself, I’ve had this disease for 14 years. I have tried numerous DMT‘s in the past to no avail. I gave up and approach this holistically and naturally. Diet and exercise are very factors in keeping MS under control.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi George,

I'm sorry that DMTs haven't helped you but glad that diet and exercise have. I hope that will continue to be so.


Clarissa avatar


Great info, thank you for sharing. I am definitely interested in what's to come with Digoxin, and I will still continue to take vitamin D2 once a week, I do feel it helps my overall health, I can feel a difference, not a huge one, nevertheless, a little spring in my step is better than numb.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Clarissa,

I'm glad the info we're providing is useful to you. And yes, a little spring is better than a rusty one!


Tom Anderson avatar

Tom Anderson

Hi Ed- Regarding Vit D Mutations- I’ll file this one away as another example of contradicting frustrating data concerning “cause”. The MS Blog at Barts in England highlighted a study just last week (Predictors of progression from a first demyelinating event to clinically definite multiple sclerosis. Brain Commun. 2022 Jul 9;4(4):fcac181). Statistically, it sounds like an Analysis of Variance test (ANOVA). They found that (among other variables) sun exposure ages 6-18, as well as a Vit D related gene, significantly predicted who would be diagnosed with definite MS after an initial demyelinating event. The study you’re reporting on here suggests Vit D does not influence the severity of MS, (which is different than whether you get MS). With all the data surrounding sun exposure and geographical location growing up, I’ll keep taking my Vit D also. (I and family members have tested low for Vit D.)

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Another excellent comment, Tom. I crave the sunshine. (Maybe I spent too much time navigating the NYC subways when I was growing up.)



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