MS news notes: Yoga, vitamin D, myelin repair, fall risk

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

Yoga vs. physical therapy

The MS News Today article “Yoga better than physical therapy at improving MS quality of life: Study” details another research report that doesn’t surprise me.

I’ve been periodically treated with physical therapy in the many years that I’ve lived with MS. I’ve also tried yoga and have exercised with a personal trainer. I’d rate the life-quality benefits of physical therapy as third, behind the other two. (Of course, don’t tell my wife this — she’s a retired physical therapist!)

The study reports that although yoga had no impact on symptoms, the MS patients in the yoga group showed a significant improvement in their quality of life scores. In particular, after 12 weeks, they scored better on measures of physical and social functioning, life activity, and mental health than did those receiving physical therapy or no therapy. To me, quality of life trumps everything else when it comes treatment choice.

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High or low vitamin D dose?

“D” apparently is for “downer” in this study, which found that a high-dose vitamin D supplement didn’t reduce the risk of relapses in people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) already using a disease-modifying therapy.

The article “Vitamin D at high dose doesn’t lower MS relapse risk, Phase 3 trial finds” describes how researchers compared high and low doses of vitamin D (5,000 international units, or IU, and 600 IU) used as supplements to Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) treatments. They conclude that a high dose of vitamin D supplement failed to reduce the risk of relapses in people with RRMS any better than a lower dose. It also failed to prevent the formation of new lesions or to delay disease worsening.

There are mixed views about the benefits of vitamin D for people with MS. Despite this study, I think I’ll continue to take my 600 IU of supplemental vitamin D.

Investigational myelin repair therapy moving forward

Janssen acquires rights to PIPE-307, potential myelin restoring therapy” brings the news that a Phase 2 trial of this investigational oral therapy is expected to be launched. According to currently available information, the trial will be small — only about 45 RRMS patients at various sites in the U.S.

Damaged myelin usually can be repaired by cells called oligodendrocytes, but this process tends to be faulty in people with MS. PIPE-307 aims to boost remyelination by promoting the transition of oligodendrocyte precursor cells into mature oligodendrocytes.

A device to reduce fall risk

A new wearable system called NeurOpTrek powered by Sensoria is designed to be used by optometrists to improve the balance, gait, and coordination of some of their patients. By doing so, it’s also expected to help reduce the risk of falls.

Although the system is intended for older patients, the article “New optometric technology may help reduce fall risk” reports that it’s also useful for people with MS.

NeurOpTrek uses pressure sensors and microelectronics to provide real-time balance and gait data, permitting more accurate vision assessment and correction.

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.


Heidi Crayton avatar

Heidi Crayton

Nice summary Ed!!!!

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks, Doc. Look forward to seeing you in June.



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