MS News Notes: Nabiximols, Spinal Fluid Biomarkers, Mediterranean Diet, ‘Shaky’ Treadmill

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

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner for

Here are a few multiple sclerosis (MS) stories that caught my eye last week:

Can nabiximols ease MS spasticity?

In “4 Weeks of Nabiximols Found to Ease Spasticity in MS Pilot Study,” Margarida Maia reports some potentially good news for people with MS spasticity. Nabiximols, marketed in Canada and Europe as Sativex, is an oral spray that contains equal parts of THC and CBD. This small study found that it may ease spasticity.

However, by reading further into the story, you’ll discover that the study also reports that the improvements were “below the threshold identified as representative of a clinically meaningful difference.” So is the cup half full or half empty? Have you tried Sativex for spasticity? What were the results? Please share in the comments at the end of this column.

Four weeks of treatment with nabiximols — an oral spray containing compounds found in the cannabis plant — significantly reduced spasticity and generally improved arm and hand function in multiple sclerosis patients with moderate to severe spasticity, according to a small pilot study in Italy.

Recommended Reading
An illustration of vials.

Low Cholesterol May Reflect More Aggressive Disease Progression

Notably, after nabiximols, patients showed faster and smoother movements on a “hand to mouth” task — which represents movements needed to carry out important daily tasks such as eating and drinking.

Biomarkers in spinal fluid might predict MS progression

Lumbar punctures, also known as spinal taps, have been used for decades to help diagnose MS. But they might also be useful in judging how quickly the illness might progress by looking at a pair of molecules in that fluid, as Patricia Valerio reports in her story “2 Biomarkers Seen as Best at Predicting Course of Relapsing MS.”

The levels of two cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, CHI3L1 and CXCL13, were significantly elevated in people with relapsing and progressive multiple sclerosis relative to control groups without this disease, and are most likely to predict how relapsing MS will progress, a study reported.

Higher levels of these biomarkers were also associated with a greater risk of conversion to clinically defined MS in patients with a first demyelination event, who are considered as having clinically isolated syndrome.

Are you what you eat when it comes to your MS?

Though there is no “official” MS diet, several have shown evidence in studies of improving symptoms or slowing disease progression. In “Mediterranean Diet Associated With Lower Disability Risk in MS Study,” it seems the more closely one follows the diet, the better it seems to work.

High adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of disability outcomes, as well as reported disease symptoms, in people with multiple sclerosis, a new study shows.

The data provide important information for further studies to guide clinical recommendations in MS.

Shake, rattle, and walk on this treadmill — it might help your balance

Balance is becoming an increasing problem for me, so the idea of improving things by exercising on a “shaky” treadmill — more on what that means below — seems very appealing. The details are in the story “NIH Grant to Test ‘Shaky’ Treadmill Training to Prevent Falls With MS.”

A research team at Marquette University has received a $3.34 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to test whether high-intensity exercise on a “shaky” treadmill — one that moves unexpectedly — can help people with multiple sclerosis retain a sense of balance and walk faster.

The project, “High-intensity, dynamic-stability gait training in people with multiple sclerosis,” will be led by Brian Schmit, PhD, a professor and chair of the biomedical engineering department jointly run at the Milwaukee university and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

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.


Tom Anderson avatar

Tom Anderson

Hi again Ed- Regarding “Biomarkers in spinal fluid…”, so often the reporting regarding clinically isolated event vs. progression leaves out what I think is the most pressing issue, which is “Will I or Do I, have MS?” The wording in this study (albeit hard to follow), doesn’t describe what happened to participants down the road. It does generally go into people who come in being worse off, end up being clinically worse off sooner, but fails to stipulate a time-line. I want to know, how many never ever progressed?

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Good question, Tom, and I don't know the answer. If you click through to the actual study you can probably find contact info for the lead author, to whom you could pose that question.


Tom Anderson avatar

Tom Anderson

Beyond my pay grade, Ed!

Julie DelMarcelle avatar

Julie DelMarcelle

Thank you for your research and articles! My husband has secondary progressive MS. His sister had a first, and only demyelination event at age 48, now age 63. She is an avid long distance runner, has run many marathons, has never had another event and does not seem to have any progression of her MS. She has been on Copaxone all these years. Ckearly, her level of exercise has had a positive effect on her symptoms and disease.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Julie -

Thanks for that encouraging information about your sister. I wonder if your sister knows about Cheryl Hile, a woman with MS who has run a marathon on every continent and her marathon organization, Run a Myelin My Shoes:

I can't agree with you more on the importance of some sort of exercise for someone with MS.



Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

Dancing Doodle

Did you know some of the news and columns on Multiple Sclerosis News Today are recorded and available for listening on SoundCloud? These audio news stories give our readers an alternative option for accessing information important for them.

Listen Here