MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: COVID-19 Vaccines, Robot Training, Bladder Treatment, Tysabri

Columnist Ed Tobias shares the week's top MS news, including a study about T-cell response to COVID-19 vaccines

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by Ed Tobias |

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Anti-CD20 Therapies Help Mount T-cell Response to COVID-19 Vaccines

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been concerns that anti-CD20 therapies, such as Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), may interfere with the ability of a person with MS to fight a COVID-19 infection. But this report says that even if the vaccine attacks B-cells, it appears to boost our T-cells, which also fight infection. That seems like encouraging news for people taking B-cell-depleting disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and something they might want to discuss with their neurologists.

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are on therapies that deplete antibody-producing B-cells can mount an effective T-cell immune response to COVID-19 vaccination, a new study shows.

The findings suggest that the vaccines strongly activate other parts of the immune system that are helpful in fighting the virus, even in patients who failed to develop an antibody response.

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Robot-assisted Gait Training Best for Severe Mobility Issues: Study

In robotic-assisted gait training, or RAGT, a patient wears a robotic device that helps support the body and allows the person to stand and walk during rehabilitation. According to this review of several studies, RAGT led to significant improvements in the six-minute walk test and the 10-meter walk test. The first test measures distance, and the second measures speed. Fatigue and balance also improved.

Robotic-assisted gait training (RAGT) may be the most effective form of physical exercise for improving mobility among people with severe multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent review study.

Other exercise types, such as conventional walking, treadmill training, and yoga, may also be feasible and effective, however, the researchers found.

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Leg Nerve Stimulation Feasible, May Help With Overactive Bladder in MS

Will applying a low electrical current to the leg help control bladder problems in people with MS? Maybe. Researchers used a device called a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit to deliver electrical stimulation to specific nerves in the legs to try to inhibit muscle contraction and to relax the muscles around the bladder to lessen sensations of pressure or urgency.

My wife used a TENS unit to reduce muscular pain many years ago. The unit was easy to use and inexpensive. It would be great if this same type of treatment could relieve some MS bladder problems.

Transcutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (TTNS), a procedure sending an electric current through the skin to nerves in the legs, is generally safe and feasible in people with overactive bladder due to multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a proof-of-concept study.

Though the study was not designed to test the efficacy of TTNS, data suggest that the intervention helped to ease bladder problems in patients.

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Tysabri Beats Other DMTs in Helping With Symptoms, Work Productivity

Yes, it did help — but only for some symptoms. These researchers analyzed data from the Australian MS Long Study and found that MS patients using Tysabri (natalizumab) self-reported greater reductions in several MS symptoms than those treated with other DMTs. However, Tysabri did not outperform other treatments in lessening pain, fatigue, or spasticity (muscle stiffness). I think those are some pretty important symptoms, don’t you?

Tysabri (natalizumab) outperforms other disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) in its ability to lessen a range of patient-reported symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to data from a large real-world study.

These symptoms include balance difficulties, sensory problems, feelings of anxiety, bladder problems, vision problems, and sexual dysfunction.


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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