MS news notes: Orelabrutinib, foralumab, diets, coffee and tea

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

A positive report on orelabrutinib

Orelabrutinib is one of several experimental Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors currently being studied by researchers. BTK inhibitors are designed to selectively block an enzyme that’s important for the activation of immune cell populations implicated in MS. In mid-2021, some in the MS community were wondering whether BTK inhibitors could be the next big thing in MS therapies.

The MS News Today story “Orelabrutinib reduces brain lesions in RRMS by 90% in Phase 2 trial” reports encouraging news about orelabrutinib, but the assessment is a 12-week interim analysis of a global Phase 2 trial. A full, 24-week data readout from the trial and plans for a Phase 3 study are expected within the coming year. Let’s hope those results are just as encouraging.

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Testing a nasal spray to treat SPMS

In “Tiziana to launch clinical trial for MS therapy foralumab in late 2023,MS News Today reports on plans to launch a Phase 2 clinical trial of foralumab, an antibody-based nasal spray, in people with nonactive secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) later this year. Foralumab is designed to block CD3, a protein on the surface of immune T-cells. By targeting this receptor, foralumab reduces the activity of certain T-cell subsets that contribute to the inflammatory attacks in MS, while boosting immunosuppressive T-cells that help keep the immune system in check.

I think a nasal spray would be particularly welcomed by people with MS who must inject themselves with medication. Additionally, for those with SPMS, few approved treatments are currently on the market.

Diets and depression

When people with MS consider diets, it seems to me that it’s usually with the hope that they will help with physical symptoms or with delaying disease progression. According to the story “Adherence to high-quality MS diet may help ease depression in patients,” folks might also consider potential benefits to mental health.

In this research, diets such as McDougall, paleo, Swank, and Overcoming MS were all linked to reduced depression. But researchers caution that two things are key to diet success: The diet needs to be high quality and the person following the diet needs to be committed to long-term adherence.

Could coffee and tea reduce the chances of getting MS?

This is a story about a small study in Iran, involving 146 people with MS and 277 age-matched controls who self-reported on how much milk, coffee, black and green tea, natural or packaged juices, soft drinks, and nonalcoholic beer they drink. “Drinking coffee and tea may protect against MS, study says” reports what researchers found regarding MS prevalence. But it’s all based on a self-reporting survey.

As a person who has lived with MS for over 40 years, this kind of research concerns me. The headline grabs attention, but the details reported in the story and the study itself leave me wondering how long participants were consuming these beverages before their MS diagnoses. I don’t see an answer to that.

And as our story notes in the final paragraph, “One of the limitations of this study is that it relied on participants recalling their drinking habits, which might have affected the results.” I’m not a researcher, but as a person with MS, it seems to me that this might be a significant problem.

Read an interesting MS news story lately or have a take on one of these stories? Please share 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.


Brenda Cephas avatar

Brenda Cephas

This info is very interesting. Have been any updates on muscle spasms? I broke my Femur a. couples years ago and muscle spasms are out of control. Also I am interested in trying studies. I’ve had MS for 38 years worked with it and retired 2013!
Hopefully I can help someone?
.God bless

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Brenda,

The stories here are the latest info. However, you can search for "spasms" on the website's homepage to see if there's anything else. I use Gabapentin for my leg spasms and it helps a little. You might ask your neuro about it. We also frequently post info about studies that are looking for participants. However, I have to caution that almost all studies have an age cutoff of 50 or 55.


Brad S avatar

Brad S

I agree with you about the coffee / tea "study" but I understand why they do them: they help continue to paint the picture that's become increasingly clear -- the main takeaway from dozens of studies is that drinking coffee / tea is far better for people who need / want caffeine than drinking soda or energy drinks. That's regardless of whether you are concerned about MS, cognitive decline, heart disease, cancer etc. But they are just one piece in an arsenal of what people should be doing for their general health -- good sleep, balanced diet, moderate exercise, etc, and of course good luck.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Good points, Brad. I drink coffee and have increased my water drinking but I only drink soda very occasionally.



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