MS news notes: ANK-700, traveling for treatment, cognition

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 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:

An ‘inverse vaccine’ trial to treat MS

What’s an “inverse vaccine,” you might ask? While traditional vaccines rev up the body’s immune system, an inverse vaccine is designed to teach the immune system not to attack certain targets.

As the MS News Today story “‘Inverse vaccine’ approach lowers disease in MS mouse model” tells us, an experimental inverse vaccine called ANK-700 is being studied to see if it can block the immune system from attacking and damaging part of the myelin sheath.

All current MS treatments work by suppressing the immune system. An inverse vaccine might be able to control MS without limiting the immune system’s normal ability to defend the body against infections. This is only a laboratory study right now, but early results have been good. Stay tuned.

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A good neurologist is worth the trip

For several years, I drove six hours round trip to see my MS neurologist. While that may be extreme, the story “US study tracks distance Medicare patients travel to see neurologist” reports that I’m not the only one who hits the road to see their neurologist.

About 23% of people who have Medicare as their health insurance — meaning they are at least 65 years old — have traveled at least 100 miles round trip for a neurologist appointment. The story reports that about one-third of those patients bypassed a closer neurologist to see a different one.

I’m not surprised. A good MS neurologist — especially an MS specialist — is worth the drive.

Have you struggled to find one? Please share in the comments below.

Improving cognition for people with MS

Many people with MS have told me that cognitive problems trouble them almost as much as physical ones. So new research on addressing cognitive issues in MS is certainly welcome.

That’s exactly what is reported on in the story “Kessler Foundation researchers to explore improving cognition in MS.” Researchers will evaluate the benefits of a cognitive intervention called COMBINE, which stands for Combination Optimizes Memory Based on Imaging and Neuropsychological Endpoints. It’s based on research indicating that exercise is linked to cognitive improvements in MS.

They will compare it to the effects of a cognitive rehabilitation technique called KF-mSMT, which stands for the Kessler Foundation modified Story Memory Technique. This involves visualization and storytelling strategies to help patients learn new information.

The researchers hope to broaden the benefits of KF-mSMT by adding what they call “innovative exercise training interventions.”

I believe that regular exercise helps both my mind and body. Based on my experience, I suspect COMBINE will have positive results.

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.


Jeffrey Gingold avatar

Jeffrey Gingold

Thank you, Ed, for keeping the cognitive impediments out of the MS closet.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Jeffrey,

It can't hide from me!



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