MS news notes: Tysabri biosimilar, diet, cognitive rehab, aging

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,” a weekly Monday morning column where I comment on multiple sclerosis (MS) news stories that caught my eye last week. Here’s a look at what’s been happening:

Tysabri biosimilar on the horizon

Tysabri (natalizumab) is a very effective disease-modifying therapy (DMT) for people with MS. I was treated with it for about seven years and did very well. But, as is the case with most DMTs, it’s expensive.

Now, as Marisa Wexler reports in “Biosimilar Comparable in Safety, Efficacy to Tysabri in Phase 3 Trial,” data from a Phase 3 clinical trial shows positive news about an experimental medication that might compete with Tysabri at a lower cost.

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Coconut oil, green tea, and the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is used by a number of people with MS to try to lessen their symptoms and improve their overall health. In the story “Coconut Oil and Green Tea Lead to Gait, Balance Gains in MS Patients,” Lindsey Shapiro reports that after spending four months on this diet, the endurance of test subjects improved. But adding coconut oil and green tea provided an added benefit of improved balance and gait.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society notes that “there is no definitive diet that has been scientifically proven to be beneficial in changing the course of MS,” and I’m not a big diet fan, but the Mediterranean diet, plus this supplement combination, seems worthy of consideration. What do you think? Please share in the comments below.

Nondrug treatments to curb cognitive decline

Mindfulness uses a combination of things like yoga, meditation, music, stretching, and group support to reduce stress. Cognitive rehabilitation theory uses work and similar activities to improve a person’s ability to perform cognitive tasks.

As Steve Bryson writes in “MS Cognitive Problems Can Ease With Rehab, Mindfulness Training,” a recent clinical trial found both strategies to be helpful to patients, although the study also found that most benefits were lost within six months of the end of the sessions.

Have you had any experience with mindfulness or cognitive rehabilitation theory to manage your cognitive problems?

A best practices initiative for older people with MS

At 74, I’m an older person with MS. I’ve lived with MS since I was 32, but now I’m at an age where most people are ignored when it comes to studies and new treatments. So I’m thrilled to see a new program that focuses on people like me.

As Mary Chapman describes in “Aging MS Patients Are Focus of UT Dell Medical School Initiative,” researchers at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School plan to hold focus groups to determine how older patients want their care structured and delivered. Sign me up!

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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