MS news notes: Vumerity, herpes virus, caregivers

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 some of what’s been happening:

A good report for Vumerity

Final results are in from the EVOLVE-MS-1 clinical trial for patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) who were treated with Vumerity (diroximel fumarate), and the news is quite positive, as MS News Today reported in “Vumerity reduces relapses, lesions over 2 years: EVOLVE-MS-1 study.”

In the study, Vumerity, an approved oral disease-modifying therapy, significantly reduced relapse rates by more than 80% over a two-year period. Also, the number of actively inflammatory lesions and new or enlarging lesions dropped significantly.

Disability, either measured by tests or reported by patients, remained stable, and adverse effects were mostly mild or moderate. Serious adverse effects were reported in 11.6% of patients.

Nearly one-third of the patients experienced gastrointestinal tract issues, most of which were deemed mild or moderate. These were much fewer and milder than developer Biogen’s older MS treatment, Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate).

All of this should be encouraging and welcome news for both Biogen and RRMS patients.

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Another possible herpesvirus connection

Research has long pointed to a link between MS and the Epstein-Barr virus, which belongs to the family of herpesviruses. According to the story “HHV-6A herpes virus tied to more nerve damage before onset of MS,” data “has suggested other members of the herpesvirus family might influence MS risk also, leading scientists here to examine the connection between MS and infection with human herpesvirus 6A, or HHV-6A, which has been implicated in the disease.”

Researchers in Sweden tested for antibodies against HHV-6A as well as levels of neurofilament light chain (NfL), a marker of nerve damage, in the years before MS symptoms appeared in patients in the database. The result, according to researchers, was that “HHV-6A seropositivity was significantly associated with higher levels of sNfL.”

This supports the hypothesis that “HHV-6A may contribute to the [development] of multiple sclerosis in a proportion of cases,” they added, but it does not show that “HHV-6A infection is essential for disease development.”

MS caregivers get another voice

The voices of people who care for people with MS aren’t always heard when MS research is being considered. But that is now changing, thanks to the research initiative iConquerMS, which is expanding its research program to include caregivers.

The story “iConquerMS expands research efforts to focus on MS caregivers” notes that the program has launched a new website and a research program for caregivers. Participants will be able to complete surveys about their experiences that will help shape future MS research. The website will also contain MS research studies and other information that is helpful to MS carers.

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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