MS News Notes: Foralumab, ATA188, Precision Care, PoNS Trial

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

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by Ed Tobias |

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Welcome to “MS News Notes,” where I comment on multiple sclerosis (MS) news stories that caught my eye last week. Here’s a look at what’s happening:

Could a nasal spray join the MS treatment arsenal?

Shots, pills, and infusions are approved in the U.S. as disease-modifying therapies for MS, but so far, there isn’t an approved nasal spray that serves this purpose. However, one nasal spray treatment is in the clinical trial stage: foralumab, which is aimed at people with nonactive secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS).

As MS News Today‘s Lindsey Shapiro reports in her story “Tiziana Planning 2023 Launch of Phase 2 Foralumab Trial in SPMS,” after being sprayed into the nose, foralumab enters the lymph nodes, where it activates regulatory T-cells. According to Shapiro, “These cells act to regulate the activation of other immune cells, then travel into the brain, where they work to prevent activation of microglia — the brain’s resident immune cells — and dampen inflammation.”

Two patients have been treated with foralumab under a single-access program, and four more are currently enrolled. Tiziana Life Sciences, the developer of foralumab, hopes to receive approval from the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a Phase 2, multicenter clinical trial of foralumab in mid-2023.

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Will ATA188 become a ‘game-changing’ MS treatment?

ATA188 is an experimental treatment that selectively identifies and destroys immune system cells infected with the Epstein-Barr virus. Researchers think that eliminating those cells could halt the attacks they mount against the myelin sheaths of people with MS. In turn, that could slow or halt MS progression.

In an interview with MS News Today, AJ Joshi, the chief medical officer of ATA188 developer Atara Biotherapeutics, called it “transformational” and “game-changing.”

I hope he’s right, but I have to wonder if that is a bit of an exaggeration. Read the story “#ECTRIMS2022 – ATA188 Could Be ‘Game Changing’ for Progressive MS” and see what you think.

Providing precision care for people with MS

Precision care is a relatively new method of treating people with multiple sclerosis and other illnesses. Your genetics, environment, and behavior are all taken into account to plan treatment targeted specifically to you, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.

The biomedical company Octave has created tools to help healthcare providers use this approach, including blood biomarkers, MRI scans, and an app. MS News Today‘s Vanda Pinto reports about it in her story “Octave’s Precision Care Solution Aims to Better Tailor MS Treatment.”

These tools are being used at various MS centers in the U.S. According to Martin Belkin, medical director at one of those centers, the Michigan Institute for Neurological Disorders, the MS Precision Care Solution program “provides those of us who have been working to treat this disease with more comprehensive and scientific tools and information than we have seen to date.”

Neuromodulation stimulator trial looking for volunteers in several states

A portable neuromodulation stimulator (PoNS) is a device that can be used in a clinic as a short-term treatment for adults who have difficulty walking due to mild to moderate MS symptoms. It stimulates the tongue with a light electrical current to promote neuroplasticity, the process of the brain rewiring itself.

PoNS devices are approved for use in the U.S. under the supervision of a physical therapist. But, as Margarida Maia writes in “Trial to Assess Adherence to PoNS Therapy for MS With at-Home Use,” an observational clinical trial is planned to see if the device can be used at home.

Helius Medical Technologies, the device’s developer, is expected to begin recruiting patients later this year for the study. Would you use a treatment that involved electrically stimulating your tongue? Please share your thoughts on this and other MS news stories in the comments below.


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.

Comments

Brian O’Neill avatar

Brian O’Neill

Hello—electrically stimulating the tongue is no problem. If it helps with a persons ms—no problem at ALL!!!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Brian,

I don't think this would be much different from the sensation I get on my leg from my Bioness Functional Electrical Stimulator, but the thought of it being on my tongue just doesn't seem very appealing. :-)

Ed

Reply
Elizabeth Cate avatar

Elizabeth Cate

Hi, Ed. I have tried both Bioness and PONs, and just FYI they are nothing alike. The PONs stimulation is not strong or unpleasant. And you can adjust the stimulation to your preferred setting.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Elizabeth,

That's great to know. Thanks for sharing.

Ed

Reply
Elizabeth Cate avatar

Elizabeth Cate

I can vouch for the PONs device. It has helped me tremendously. Faster walking, less fatigue, and better balance. It is expensive and a time commitment but so worth it.

Reply
Steve Pryer avatar

Steve Pryer

Anything that helps.
I say bring it on

Reply
Susan Morrow Wharton avatar

Susan Morrow Wharton

Yes, without a doubt if it helps me walk.

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Jen avatar

Jen

I would sign up for this trial today -- hopefully there will be one in Australia soon.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

I hope so too, Jen.

Ed

Reply

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