MS news notes: Older MS patients, Lucid-MS, dysphagia, MS progression

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:

Older patients and DMTs

The title of a report by MS News Today‘s Patricia Inacio notes that “Older MS patients with stable disease may safely stop DMTs: Study.” Well, that’s what the study says, but as someone who is 74, has lived with MS for 42 years, and has been treated with four disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), I have to ask if people should stop.

The study reports that people over 60 with MS whose illness is stable may stop their DMTs without increasing their risk of relapse or worsening disability. But there are some caveats. The study included only 35 people and their mean Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score was only 3.

When I began treatment with Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) several years ago, I was 68 and my EDSS was 6.5. I think the treatment held my progression in check and helped to improve a couple of symptoms. I’d hate to have a neurologist tell me, “You’re 60 years old, so we shouldn’t consider a DMT any longer.”

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Lucid-MS trial to start in Canada

Lucid-MS is a very interesting experimental MS treatment. If I correctly understand what Andrea Lobo writes in “Health Canada clears Phase 1 trial of Lucid-MS in healthy volunteers,” rather than trying to treat MS by attacking immune system cells, Lucid-MS attacks proteins that damage the myelin coating of our nerves. The immune system is not suppressed.

Also, unlike most of the other DMTs, this experimental treatment is designed to treat all forms of MS, not just relapsing-remitting MS. I hope the trials are successful.

Difficulties swallowing

Lindsey Shapiro’s story,”Swallowing problems are common for MS patients, review study finds,” reports nearly half of us have difficulty swallowing. That percentage is a lot higher than in people without MS.

The problem is due to MS lesions impacting the function of muscles required for proper swallowing. It’s called dysphagia, and it’s possible that standard dysphagia treatments can help people with MS.

Fortunately, it hasn’t affected me, but I’m always on the alert when I’m eating and try not to rush or do something else that might trigger an attack.

Tracking MS progression

Want to track MS progression even when no relapses or other signs of it occur? Marisa Wexler writes that “Levels of GFAP protein in blood may predict ‘silent progression’ of MS.”

Progression without outward signs is a problem that people with MS need to be aware of. According to these researchers, being better able to track silent progression can lead to better patient care and the development of new MS medications.

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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