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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Daily coffee can lower multiple sclerosis risk

ISLAMABAD – Drinking four to six cups of coffee daily may lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system - brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

Caffeine intake has already been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. “Our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain,” said study author Ellen Mowry from Johns Hopkins University's school of medicine in Baltimore.

The Swedish study found that compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS, Live Science reported. Drinking large amount of coffee five or 10 years before symptoms started was similarly protective.

In the US study, people who did not drink coffee were also about one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop the disease. “Caffeine should be studied for its impact on relapses and long-term disability in MS as well,” Mowry pointed out.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

How Can MRI Measurements be Improved in Trials?

shutterstock_177026120A study from German researchers might help to determine how multiple sclerosis is assessed in treatment trials. Published February 6 in the journal PLoS ONE, the study is titled “Regression to the Mean and Predictors of MRI Disease Activity in RRMS Placebo Cohorts – Is There a Place for Baseline-to-Treatment Studies in MS?
Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common degenerative neurological conditions that affects young adults worldwide. MS can occur at any age, although generally diagnosis occurs between the ages of 20 and 40. The disease is caused by an autoimmune response — an attack on the myelin that wraps around nerve cells and allows them to conduct impulses. This results in unpredictable damage to the nervous system, known as lesions. Symptoms such as loss of movement, numbness, tingling, pain, loss of eyesight and cognitive impairment may result.
In Phase 2 clinical trials for multiple sclerosis treatments, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis is conventionally assessed by observing gadolinium-enhancing (GD+) lesions and T2 lesions through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A GD+ lesion is a bright spot on the MRI that shows that there is damage to the nervous system. T2 lesions are also bright spots showing damage, and this is a common way for looking at the loss of myelin in multiple sclerosis.
Not very much is known about what can predict lesion development, which could be crucial to understand what treatments work in these studies. Specifically, a measurement known as “regression-to-the-mean” is important. This is a statistical method that accounts for measurements that are extremely variable, such as the unpredictable lesions found in multiple sclerosis.

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New drug target for multiple sclerosis discovered


TORONTO (Feb. 17, 2015) - Scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have discovered a promising new approach to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). In a new study, they've identified a previously unknown change in the spinal cord related to MS, and a way to alter this change to reduce the nerve cell damage that occurs with the disease.
This research, which could lead to the development of new types of drugs to treat MS, was led by Dr. Fang Liu, Senior Scientist in CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto.
The study appears in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, often disabling neurological disease, which is most often diagnosed among young adults between the ages of 15 and 40. While the exact cause of MS is unknown, the body's immune response is involved, and is the target of all current medications used in treatment. These medications do not cure the illness, but they do help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
"We've identified a new biological target for MS therapy," says Dr. Liu. This approach aims to stop the nerve damage related to an important brain transmitter called glutamate.
The focus of her team's investigation was a spinal cord change that involved a protein, which attaches to a specific cell receptor for the glutamate neurotransmitter. This linked receptor-protein complex was present at higher levels in spinal cord tissues of deceased MS patients and in animal models for MS.
The potential for a new MS treatment is based on what Dr. Liu's team was able to show after this discovery. Using techniques developed in her lab, the researchers created a new peptide -a tiny piece of protein - to try and disrupt this change in animal models of MS.
"We found that our peptide disrupted this linkage, and led to major improvements in neurological functioning," says Dr. Liu. Specifically, motor function was significantly better compared to a comparison group. The peptide also had a positive impact on the nerve damage associated with MS - it reduced neuron death, and rescued the protective coating of neurons called myelin, which is characteristic of MS. It also increased the survival of the cells that produce myelin.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Feb. 2015 - Enrollment Completed for Phase I Neural Stem Cell Clinical Trial

February 2015

The stem cell research division of the Tisch MS Research Center of New York is pleased to announce the completed enrollment of 20 patients to participate in the phase I clinical trial investigating the safety and efficacy of autologous, mesenchymal stem cell-derived neural progenitors (MSC-NPs) for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. We are no longer recruiting for this study. Interim results of this clinical trial will be presented at upcoming scientific conferences and simultaneously announced on our website. All questions regarding participation in any future clinical trials should be discussed with your neurologist. 

MS Views and News supports the Tisch MS Stem Cell Research Center 
If you would like to contribute to these research efforts, please donate here
  In the notes section, please mention for Stem Cell research

The Tisch MS Research Center's mission is to conduct medical research directed toward finding the cause and eventual cure of Multiple Sclerosis. The Center's medical research is designed to understand all aspects of MS, including research at the cellular and molecular levels, in order to treat and cure MS.
Our stem cell studies are the most exciting of all of our research projects. The Neural Cell Regeneration and Repair study is working to perfect a treatment using the patient's own adult stem cells to regenerate and repair nerve cells and help patients recover lost functions.
In other stem cell projects, we are studying the use of embryonic and umbilical cord blood stem cells as agents of nerve cell repair.
Tisch MS's other current innovative and unique studies include:
  • Finding the Cause of MS
  • Understanding the Mechanisms of Disease Progression
  • Developing Repair Strategies in MS
  • Conducting Translational Research
  • Biomarker Research

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When Patients Become Caregivers -- an MS patient's story

Posted: 26 Feb 2015 04:47 PM PST
It was bound to happen at some point. You don’t prepare for it—you never do. But when my wife Laura was told the newly discovered lump in her breast was growing quickly and needed to be removed immediately, our roles as patient and caregiver were violently upended. Funny, I recently was featured on WebMD talking about, of all things, the importance of caregivers. Now, without warning, I was forced to become one. Gulp.

Breast cancer runs in Laura’s family. Her grandmother was diagnosed with it in her 40s. Her wonderful mother tragically passed away from it at the age of 66. This was no joke. And that was a problem. As I mentally cataloged all of my potential skills as a caregiver, which took all of a few seconds, I concluded that my greatest caregiving asset was… humor. Jeezo.

I wasn’t going to relieve the stress of her lumpectomy surgery with lame bosom jokes (What did one boob say to the other boob? You are my breast friend. Groan.) Physical humor was out, too, because if I accidentally hurt myself joking around—something I am quite capable of—Laura surely would assign me the task of purchasing a doghouse… when we don’t have a dog. (At which point, I probably would have brought up some silly trivia about the phrase “in the doghouse” and how it was a type of sleeping shelter on an old sailing ship that was notoriously uncomfortable. And then I’d pick out sheets that matched the living room couch and make myself comfortable.)

Fortunately I discovered my caregiving skillset was deeper than I anticipated. Maybe not so much in the physical sense—other than rewrapping her dressings and getting the occasional glass of water—but I could support her in so many other ways. And yes, I did manage to make her smile without getting into too much trouble, although getting her to agree to be photographed prior to surgery was a bit of a stretch.

How did it all go? Swimmingly. My biggest challenge as caregiver was making sure I didn’t fall onto her needle-prepped chest kissing her good luck before the surgery. From there things just got easier. Her recovery was swift and she was a perfect patient. Ah, but of course—she must have learned from the best! Please note that previous sentence drips of sarcasm.

And the tumor? Benign. It feels so good to breathe again.

Dave's ActiveMS'ers Blog

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You, Me and NEDA in MS

By Laura Kolaczkowski—February 23, 2015
You may have heard or read the term NEDA (pronounced NEED-AH) in Multiple Sclerosis news in the past few months and wondered just what is NEDA and how does it apply to us? NEDA is an acronym for No Evidence of Disease Activity and sounds like the perfect goal to me.
I recently read the report Evaluation of No Evidence of Disease Activity in a 7-Year Longitudinal Multiple Sclerosis Cohort, published online for the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology, and saw the negative numbers of people sustaining NEDA over a long period of time and found the news discouraging.  But it gnawed at me that I was missing something because there are a number of researchers looking at this topic and I sensed an underlying enthusiasm for NEDA.  I reached out to my MSologist – Dr. Aaron Boster, OhioHealth Neurological Physicians – for an explanation of just what NEDA  means in our long term care.
In a lengthy chat he covered again with me a number of points that most of us already know, including:
– Very few of us will remain disease activity free because that just isn’t how MS and our disease modifying therapy drugs work.  We are fortunate to have the drugs, but we can still anticipate relapses or worse, they won’t work for us at all and it is not unusual that our disease modifying therapy (DMT) might need to be adjusted/changed.
Read more, here

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Women with MS: Links to Low Levels of Key Nutrients

Women with multiple sclerosis have been found to have lower levels of important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, as compared to women without the disease, according to a recent study done by the American Academy of Neurology.
Dr. Sandra D. Cassard along with other researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said that their findings could be important for the prevention and treatment of MS.
MS affects an estimated 400,000 people in the United States and almost 200 new diagnoses each week, according to Medical News Today.
“Since MS is a chronic inflammatory disorder, having enough nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent the disease or reduce the risk of attacks for those who already have MS,” said Cassard.
The study monitored a total of 57 non-obese white women ages 18-60, over the course of one year prior to starting vitamin D supplementation. The study consisted of 27 women who have MS and 30 who do not have the disease.
The study was able to determine that women who had MS in fact had lower levels of five key nutrients that had anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties.
The five nutrients included:
- Food folate
- Vitamin E
- Magnesium
- Antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin
- Quercetin
For food folate, the recommended daily intake is 400 micrograms (mcg). Women with MS had a substantially lower intake at 244 mcg, compared with healthy women whose average intake was 321 mcg.
Click here to continue reading

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Likelihood of MS, Other Autoimmune Disorders in Women Increased By Mercury in Seafood According to Study

shutterstock_111888158A new study entitled “Mercury Exposure and Antinuclear Antibodies among Females of Reproductive Age in the United States” suggestsmercury exposure by seafood may increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases in women. The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system attacks and damages its own healthy tissues. Females are at a significantly higher risk to suffer from autoimmune disorders when compared to men, as nine females are affected for every one male.  Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis are one of the 10 leading causes of death in women.
Autoimmunity is characterized by the lack of tolerance towards the body’s self-antigens. However, it can exist without clinical symptoms as well, accounting for a pre-clinical immune dysregulation. One of the factors associated with immune dysregulation is exposure to mercury, with mice studies supporting immunotoxic effects caused by mercury exposure (organic and inorganic forms).
A research team from the University of Michigan determined the association between mercury exposure and the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA), i.e., antibodies that are produced by the immune system when immune dysregulation occurs. Mercury biomarkers included hair mercury, (indicates predominantly organic [methyl] mercury); total blood mercury (biomarker for both organic and inorganic mercury); and urinary mercury, a marker for inorganic/elemental mercury.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stem Cells Better Than Mitoxantrone for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

February 20, 2015

Stem cells were more effective in suppressing the immune system than mitoxantrone, according to research published in Neurology.
Researchers from the University of Genoa in Italy examined 21 patients who received bone barrow to determine if their immune system would be suppressed at the same rate as patients who received mitoxantrone. A dozen patients received mitoxantrone, while 9 patients had stem cells harvested from their bone marrow. The stem cells were reintroduced to the patient’s bodies intravenously. Then, the stem cells traveled to the bone marrow and produced new cells which grew to become immune cells.
After a follow up period of 4 years, patients who received stem cells had 80 percent fewer new brain damage areas than those patients who received mitoxantrone. The stem cell group had an average 2.5 new brain lesions in comparison to 8 new lesions in the mitoxantrone receiving group.

About half (56 percent) of the mitoxantrone treated patients were discovered to have at least one new gadolinium enhancing lesion, which is another type of lesion. The stem cell treatment group had no new gadolinium enhancing lesions found.
 “This process appears to reset the immune system,” study author Giovanni Mancardi, MD explained in a press release. “With these results, we can speculate that stem cell treatment may profoundly affect the course of the disease.”
The progression of disability was not different between the 2 groups. The researchers noted the serious side effects that occurred within the stem cell treatment group were anticipated and resolved without further permanent consequences.

continue reading

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Friday, February 20, 2015

People with multiple sclerosis may have lower levels of key nutrients


WASHINGTON, DC - Women with multiple sclerosis (MS) may have lower levels of important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as folate from food and vitamin E, than healthy people, according to a new study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015.

For the study, researchers identified 27 Caucasian women with MS and compared them to 30 healthy Caucasian women between the ages of 18-60 and with body mass index of less than or equal to 30 kg/m2. Participants reported on their diet and nutrition over the previous year prior to starting vitamin D supplementation.

On average, the women who had MS had lower levels of five nutrients with antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties: food folate, vitamin E, magnesium, lutein-zeaxanthin and quercetin. For food folate, the women with MS had average intake of 244 micrograms (mcg), while the healthy women had an average intake of 321 mcg. The recommended daily allowance is 400 mcg. For magnesium, the women with MS had average intake of 254 milligrams (mg), while the healthy women met the recommended daily allowance of 320 mg with an average of 321 mg. The women with MS also had a lower average percentage of their calories from fat than the healthy participants.

"Since MS is a chronic inflammatory disorder, having enough nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent the disease or reduce the risk of attacks for those who already have MS," said study author Sandra D. Cassard, ScD, with John Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. "Antioxidants are also critical to good health and help reduce the effects of other types of damage that can occur on a cellular level and contribute to neurologic diseases like MS. Whether the nutritional differences that we identified in the study are a cause of MS or a result of having it is not yet clear."

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In pictures: 'What multiple sclerosis means to me'

A woman naked holding cranberries down her back

Three young artists convey their experiences of multiple sclerosis in the hope of helping others with their diagnoses.

To find something good out of something bad was the brief given to three young people. They all have multiple sclerosis (MS) and have been creating artistic works that examine how it has affected them in positive ways.

The final pieces - a combination of portraits, photographs and jewelery - are part of a project being run by multiple sclerosis charity Shift MS.

They show, they say, that "no two people have the same experience of MS".

Perceiving identity
Photographer Hannah Laycock is 32 and works in London. She was diagnosed with MS in 2013 after showing symptoms since February of the same year. Her initial fear was that she had motor neurone disease, which her father has had since 2009. Instead it was confirmed that she had MS.

A woman in the forest, her face is completely covered by mist

"I see my experience of the diagnosis as serendipitist in some ways," she says. "I'm fortunate enough not to have MND, and fortunate enough to have learnt a lot from my dad and his diagnosis, which has given me strength of mind, body and soul."
Laycock initially experienced a creative lull after her diagnosis, but says this particular project has inspired her to do some self-reflection and return to artistic work.
Her pieces are a photographic journey exploring her feelings of uncertainty, fear, loss and liberation.
"Neurology's favourite word is 'deficit'," she says. "Loss of speech, loss of language, loss of memory, loss of vision, loss of dexterity, loss of identity."
In her collection she aims to question the notion of this neurological "loss".

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More about CAMS (Complementary and Alternative Medicines)


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes a wide variety of interventions — from diets and supplements to meditation and T’ai Chi — which come from many different disciplines and traditions. Most are considered to be outside the realm of conventional medicine, although others, including vitamin Dexerciseacupuncture and cooling strategies, for example, are establishing their role in comprehensive care through scientific study and clinical trials.

When used in combination with conventional medicine, these interventions are referred to as "complementary;" when used instead of conventional medicine, they are referred to as "alternative." In the United States today, the vast majority of people incorporate one form or another of CAM as part of their MS management, most often in combination with their prescribed MS treatments. 
The American Academy of Neurology recently released a guideline on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in MS.

Safety & effectiveness

Many people use CAM because they believe that anything sold online or over-the-counter at a pharmacy or health food store is healthy and harmless. But many products that claim to be safe and beneficial may not be. Unlike conventional medical treatments that are thoroughly tested and carefully regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most CAM therapies have undergone very little — if any — scientific study to evaluate their safety and effectiveness. So some forms of CAM may be completely safe for a person with MS while others may actually pose significant risks — by producing significant side effects, over-stimulating the person’s immune system or interacting negatively with other medications a person is taking. Some may provide some benefit for a person with MS while others offer no benefit at all.
Carefully-designed clinical trials are the best way to determine the safety and effectiveness of a particular treatment. Here’s why:
  • Because the course of MS is variable, and each person’s symptoms tend to come and go in an unpredictable way, the only way to determine the effectiveness of a treatment is to test it on a large number of people.
  • Because most people — regardless of the disease they have — will have a positive response to any new treatment they receive (even if it’s an inactive substance or placebo). The effectiveness of a new treatment can only be proven by comparing it to a placebo or to another treatment that has already been shown to be effective.
  • Because every treatment carries with it the risk of anticipated and unanticipated side effects, the only way to evaluate a treatment’s safety is to evaluate it in a large number of people over a sufficient period of time.

Guidelines for considering or using CAM

Questions to ask when considering CAM:
  • What does the treatment involve?
  • How and why is it supposed to work?
  • How effective is it?
  • What are the risks associated with its use?
  • How much does it cost?
Keep your physician informed about everything you are taking. Not sharing this important information is like asking your physician to treat you blindfolded — and knowing everything you are taking will allow your doctor to alert you to possible side effects or drug interactions.
Don't abandon conventional therapy. The treatments your physician prescribes for you are the ones that have been evaluated in controlled clinical trials or accepted by the MS medical community as safe and effective therapies. So stay with your prescribed treatments even if you decide to add CAM to your comprehensive treatment plan.
Document the experience. Keep a detailed log of what you take or what is done and any changes you experience. Use this form to track your prescription and over-the-counter treatments (.pdf).
Source: National MS Society

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