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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Product Warning - from an MS peer

Rüsch Brilliant Catheters - WARNING

This catheter manufactured by China Medicals, Div. of SCS LLC. Shaoxing, Zhejiang, China is sub-standard and dangerous.

I have personal experience of the 10ml. balloon in 3 catheters rupturing, having a minute hole in the plastic, losing water and spontaneously ejecting.

The Chinese company place an umlaut over the U in Rüsch, misleading customers into thinking that the product is made by the Rausch AG Kreuzlingen, Switzerland,
a reputable German pharmaceutical company.

The product is distributed in Europe by Coloplast SA.
Copies of this email have been sent to Cosejeria de Salud de la Junta de Andalucia, MS Society UK, Rausch AG Kreuzlingen.

Terence Wilson
Cortijo El Almendro, Motril 18600, Granada, España
Teléfono +34 958 60 39 18
Skype: callto:janusfone

# El email saliente protegió por seguridad del Internet del ¡Avast! #

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Legendary actor Paul Newman dies at age 83

One of My Favorites --- G-d Rest His Soul !!!!

Legendary actor Paul Newman dies at age 83

Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as the anti-hero of such films as "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "The Color of Money" - and as an activist, race car driver and popcorn impresario - has died. He was 83.

In this September 2005 file photo originally released by the Sundance Channel, actors Paul Newman, left, and Robert Redford pose at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Conn., to film an episode of the Sundance Channel original series "Iconoclasts." Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as an activist, race car driver, popcorn impresario and the anti-hero of such films as "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "The Color of Money," has died, a spokeswoman said Saturday. He was 83. Newman died Friday, Sept. 26, 2008, of cancer, spokeswoman Marni Tomljanovic said.
Sundance Channel, Stuart Ramson, File/AP Photo

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Difficulties in Diagnosing MS

Information Provided by Robin-Marie B. in Ocala

Source: United Spinal Assoc.

Roberto Bomprezzi, MD––Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

Difficulties in Diagnosing MS
How can a physician know if a patient has multiple sclerosis (MS)? The kind of damage MS does to the nervous system is well known. MS is a progressive disease characterized by lesions in the central nervous system (CNS) in which myelin, the fatty material that insulates nerve fibers, is destroyed. Over time, most people with MS become increasingly disabled because of this damage. Despite this knowledge, however, no single test exists that can definitely identify MS, and making an accurate diagnosis early in the course of the disease can be quite difficult.

» Read More

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Clinical Trial Spotlight for those with SPMS

Information provided by: Robin B. in Ocala- thank you Robin

August 22nd, 2008

A Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Multi-Center Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of MBP8298 in Subjects With Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Vitamin D Linked to Genetic, Environmental Risk for MS

Publication Logo

by: Allison Gandey

September 26, 2008 (Salt Lake City, Utah) — Results from a new study unite the genetic and environmental risks of multiple sclerosis in a disease-specific and gene-environment interaction. Presenting at the American Neurological Association 133rd Annual Meeting, researchers described a link between vitamin D and the pathogenesis of MS.

"There's a connection between the 2 — no question about it," lead investigator George Ebers, MD, from the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, told Medscape Neurology & Neurosurgery. "But exactly how it works is not clear yet."

Asked to comment on the work, Emmanuelle Waubant, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco said, "MS is a very heterogeneous disease, and this is an interesting way to look at the factors that predispose people."

» Read More

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It's never too late in the year to begin new resolutions. Michael, from California provided me with a story that he wrote for a New Year's resolution but like I said, that it's never too late to begin anew, I thought to provide this to you now. Why wait til January what I can share today...
My New Year’s Resolution: To Do More
This year, I resolve to do more.
I will love more.
I will laugh more.
I will sing more.
I will participate more and I will make more of a difference in the world around me.
Life is a journey. If we pay attention along the way, we find that it is also a great teacher. Below are some of the things I have learned on my journey:

We can all do something.

I have learned that nothing holds us back except ourselves. I have learned that we either have results or excuses as to why not. I have learned that we all have the same amount of time, and that we all can participate more, and do more to make a difference in this world. Whether it is an hour a day, an hour a month or an hour a year, we can all do something to make this a better world.

We can all do more.

Doing more requires only one thing: making the decision to do more. I have decided to do more for the MS Society ( ) and for Chelsea’s Hope ( – Please visit this site). I will also do more for my wife, my children and my friends. I will do more for the world around me.

Doing more means participating more. Showing up is a good start, but it is not enough. Participating means rolling your sleeves up and getting involved both figuratively and literally. It means asking questions and learning more. It means listening when a listener is needed and teaching or counseling when called for. It means helping out and contributing time and attention to someone or something. It means caring.

We can all make a difference.

We can only make a difference when we care. Whether it is family or friends, work or a cause - my favorites are the MS Society ( ) and Chelsea’s Hope ( - Please visit this website). Find something that you care about and be a participant. If we participate, we can make a difference. When we make a difference, our lives have meaning and purpose.

Resolve to do more. That is my New Year’s Resolution. I may or may not lose weight, exercise more or save any money. What I will do is MORE…more of what is needed to make this world a better place. I hope that you will make that part of your list of resolutions too.

These are my New Year’s Resolutions and I am planning to have a great year.

Michael G.

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An MS Patient's desire to inspire others

You know.....when I go to exercise with my trainer......people always approach us and say "what a wonderful job, keep up the good work, yada yada yada...."

Recently, one of the docs that also works out where I go tells me how inspiring I am, but it shouldn't be that way. I am just doing the same thing he is!

It should be the norm that people with MS get out and try to exercise at whatever level they can. I am just trying to be healthy/fit just like all the others that go and workout....Obama's wife.....her speech....saying how inspiring it was for her to watch her father....that he had the determination to get dressed despite the fact that it took an should be expected....

More information needs to be provided to those of us with MS that we CAN do things.......differently perhaps......but WE CAN....!

It should be the norm - not a miracle that someone with MS is successful to whatever degree he/she is. I would love to see more of society being educated and understanding MS. For me, it was the opposite. I was told I can't...and wont be able to........don't waste my time/energy trying - that I will only get worse (dx with PPMS)......fortunately, I love my chronic state of denial.

- Shabby Doll :)

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Season Changes

Season Changes and MS

With the cooler weather of autumn settling in, many of us are starting to feel like new persons and come alive with the weather change. As a result this is the time of year we begin to think about vacations or yard work or those interior renovation projects.

There are some very important points to keep in mind if you are a person with MS or just if you love a person with MS.

Read More by clicking here

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L'Shana Tova for those celebrating a New Year, next week

May the year ahead be filled with health, happiness, contentment
and all other good things

The festival of Rosh Hashanah --the name means "Head of the Year" --is observed for two days beginning on Tishrei 1, the first day of the Jewish year. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind's role in G-d's world.

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Disease Modifying Drugs Tie for Efficacy in Multiple Sclerosis

Disease Modifying Drugs Tie for Efficacy in Multiple Sclerosis: Presented at ANA

    DG Dispatch

    By Andrew N. Wilner, MD

    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- September 24, 2008 -- The different disease-modifying drugs available on the market for treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) result in similar rates of disease relapse when examined over the long term, according to a retrospective chart review.

    Loren Rolak, MD, The Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wisconsin, presented the results of the study here on September 23 at the American Neurological Association (ANA) 133rd Annual Meeting.

    Dr. Rolak and colleagues reviewed the clinical course of 573 patients with relapsing-remitting MS treated with disease modifying agents at The Marshfield Clinic. They evaluated 176 patients for >5 years, 47 patients for >10 years, and 27 patients for >12 years.

    Results show that relapse rates (RR) were similar among the 4 disease-modifying therapies: 0.29 with glatiramer acetate subcutaneous (n = 224), 0.32 with beta interferon-1a intramuscular (n = 180), 0.30 with beta interferon -1a subcutaneous (n = 43), and 0.31 with beta interferon-1b subcutaneous (n = 126).

    There was no association between major histocompatibility complex class II DR beta 1 (HLA-DRB1) or nitric oxide synthase (NOS2A) genotypes and relapse rate among the different drugs.

    "Switching to another drug doesn't matter in terms of relapses; if you fail one drug, switching to another one doesn't result in clinical improvement," Dr. Rolak added.

    Dr. Rolak's data also demonstrated similar degrees of disability for patients on the different treatments during follow-up that extended to 12 years. At the onset of follow-up, patients had an Extended Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores ranging from 1.5 to 2.5. At the end of 12 years, the EDSS scores ranged from 4 to 4.5. EDSS scores with the different drugs were similar at 7, 10, and 12 years.

    These results are consistent with recent head-to-head trials that compared these drugs, Dr. Rolak observed. These studies failed to show significant differences in the efficacy of these drugs, he said.

    "None of the drugs demonstrate superiority in relapse rate or EDSS when followed for up to 12 years," Dr. Rolak concluded.

    [Presentation title: No Difference Among Disease-Modifying Drugs for the Long-Term Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. Abstract T-103]

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When to Massage Injection Sites for People with MS

Stuart Says: "IMPORTANT Information ESPECIALLY for those that get injection site reactions, like a reddening, tenderness, or bruising"

By Julie Stachowiak, Ph.D., Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by Suman Jayadev, MD

Massaging injection sites after an injection of one of the disease-modifying drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS) can really help reduce irritation in these areas. However, it is extremely important to pay attention to the rules of WHEN is the best time to massage your injection sites, which depends on which medication you are taking.

If You Are Using Betaseron, Avonex , Rebif:

It is recommended that you massage the injection site for the interferons immediately following the injection.

Some recommend massaging the site gently with a dry cotton ball or gauze for two minutes or more. This is supposed to help disperse the medication, as well as reduce potential irritation.

If You Are Using Copaxone:

If you are injecting Copaxone, it is important that you NOT massage the injection site for at least 24 hours after the injection. Massaging the site right after injecting could cause destruction of the fat right under the skin, leading to lipoatrophy.

However, one of the most common side effects of Copaxone is hard, red lumps at injection sites, which typically appear 24 to 36 hours after the injection is given. Vigorously massaging these lumps (as long as you wait more than 24 hours after the injection was given) can help reduce the irritation and make them go away faster. Some people apply heat to the lumps, then massage them. I have even gotten a professional massage and asked the therapist to concentrate on any lumps she found.

Source: - Updated: April 16, 2008

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Bone-marrow transplantation fails to halt intrathecal lymphocyte activation in multiple sclerosis

PubMed - Sept 2008

Mondria T, Lamers CH, te Boekhorst PA, Gratama JW, Hintzen RQ.
Department of Neurology, Erasmus University Medical School, Erasmus MC, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

BACKGROUND: Given the presumed key role for autoreactive lymphocytes in multiple sclerosis (MS), treatment strategies have been developed to ablate lymphocyte activity. Intrathecal lymphocyte activation can be measured by CSF-soluble(s)CD27.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of maximum whole-body immune ablation on two different markers that detect lymphocyte activation in CSF-oligoclonal IgG bands and levels of CSF-sCD27.

» Read More

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Human Embryonic Stem Cells implanted in Mice with MS

New Hadassah Research: Human Embryonic Stem Cells implanted in Mice with MS,
Slowed Down the Disease

Posted on Hadassah Site on Sep 08, 2008

Transplantation of human embryonic stem cells into the brains of a mouse with multiple sclerosis (MS) slowed down significantly the clinical symptoms and pathological manifestations of the disease, Hadassah physicians and scientists reported last week.

Multiple sclerosis is the most common cause of neurological disabilities in young adults. It is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in which the immune system attacks the insulation of neurons (Myelin). As a result, the nervous system is damaged at a number of levels, leading to functional deficiencies in a number of neurological systems: sensory, motor, balance, sphincteral, and vision.

» Read More

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Properties of Human Embryonic Stem Cells

The Hadassah Human

Embryonic Stem Cell

Research Center


Benjamin E. Reubinoff, M.D., Ph.D.

The Properties of

Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Stem cells are immature unspecialized cells that renew themselves for long periods through cell division. Under certain conditions, they can be induced to become mature cells with special functions such as the beating cells of the heart muscle or the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are derived from early surplus human embryos (5-6 days after fertilization). The embryos used to derive these stem cells were created for infertility treatment purposes through in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures and were donated to research when they were no longer needed for that purpose.

Human ES cells are unique in the universe since they can self-renew infinitely in culture yet still retain a normal genetic pattern, and also since they have a remarkable potential to develop into all cells and tissues of the human body.

To continue reading this interesting article, I will forward you back to the original article, found at the Hadassah website. Click here.

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European network to investigate gene causing multiple sclerosis

Research Source


Ten research teams will investigate the genetic component of the multiple sclerosis’ treatment, they will do it from the University of the Basque Country.

The University of the Basque Country hosted a conference in which lecturers introduced the European scientific network that will look into the new customized treatments for multiple sclerosis. The talk took place at the so-called “Classrooms of the Experience” located at University’s premises in the old part of Bilbao’s city.

The multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease with no definitive cure. It currently affects 400,000 people in Europe, 2,000 in the Basque Country.

During the presentation it was possible to listen to the Belgian professor Koen Vandenbroeck ‘s speech. Vanderbroek is a scientist that works for Ikerbasque, a Foundation created by the Basque Government that primarily aims to help develop scientific research in the Basque Country by attracting researchers and helping them establish themselves in the field of research. Belgian researcher will be the main coordinator of the study.

A European scientific network will investigate the genetic component of the multiple sclerosis’ treatment and it will do it from the Basque University. Ten research teams from five different countries will work on a 2, 3 million Euro-project during four years. The aim is to use genetics to advance towards a customized medication.

The project also offers training internships intended for young researchers.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Doubling the Dose of Glatiramer Acetate Does Not Increase Efficacy

Information contributed by Cherie Binns, R.N.

Medscape News
Alison Palkhivala

September 22, 2008 (Montreal, Quebec) — Doubling the dose of glatiramer acetate from 20 to 40 mg/mL did not improve clinical or imaging outcomes after a year of therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Both doses of the drug performed very well, although the higher dose appeared to reduce the number of gadolinium-enhancing and new T2 lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sooner, according to research presented here at the World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis: 2008 Joint Meeting of the American, European, and Latin America Committees on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS, ECTRIMS, LACTRIMS). Lead author Giancarlo Comi, MD, a professor of neurology and chair of the neurology department at the University Vita Salute, Scientific Institute San Raffaele, in Milan, Italy, presented the results.

» Read More

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Continuing Resolution Provides Time to Secure Research Funding for MS

Being an MS Activist, I can provide you with the following information:

This week, Congress is expected to consider legislation that will continue to fund the Federal government at 2008 funding levels until early 2009. The legislation is called a Continuing Resolution (CR) and will enable programs to operate at current levels until the 111th Congress convenes after the New Year.

Congress has yet to pass any of the 12 regular appropriations bills for FY2009, which will begin on October 1. However, it is likely that they will attach the FY2009 Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bill to the CR.

This year, MS activists have been working to secure specific funding for MS research under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). The CDMRP is a program within the DoD and is funded annually through the defense appropriations bill. This means that there is still time to secure MS research funding under the CDMRP for FY2009.

Please take a moment to call your Members of Congress today to help secure MS research funding. Ask them to support $15 million for MS research funding under the CDMRP in the defense bill, to be included in the CR.

Call the Capitol switchboard at 1-800-828-0498 to be connected with your Representative and Senators.

Click here for more information and talking points.

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Cyclical and Dose-Dependent Responses of Adult Human Mature Oligodendrocytes to Fingolimod

Am J Pathol. 2008 Sep 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Miron VE, Hall JA, Kennedy TE, Soliven B, Antel JP.

From the Neuroimmunology Unit,* the Center for Neuronal Survival, and the Division of Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and the Department of Neurology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

The authors researched the effects of fingolimod, a potential new oral medication for MS, in the laboratory. They looked at its effects on the cells responsible for making myelin and found that it influences their survival.

Fingolimod is a sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) analogue that has been used in clinical trials as a systemic immunomodulatory therapy for multiple sclerosis. Fingolimod readily accesses the central nervous system, raising the issue of its direct effects on neural cells. We assessed the effects of active fingolimod on dissociated cultures of mature, myelin-producing oligodendrocytes (OLGs) derived from adult human brain.

» Read More

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Neuroprotective effect of transplanted human embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors in an animal model of multiple sclerosis

PubMed - 2008 Sep 5
Aharonowiz M, Einstein O, Fainstein N, Lassmann H, Reubinoff B, Ben-Hur T.

The Hadassah Human Embryonic Stem Cells Research Center, The Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel.

This study of stem-cell therapy in an animal model of MS showed improvement of the clinical signs, inflammation and brain injury. However these changes were not due to remyelination, instead appearing to be related to a change in the immune response.

BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune mediated demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS). A potential new therapeutic approach for MS is cell transplantation which may promote remyelination and suppress the inflammatory process.

» Read More

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450 attend Montréal08 – Living with MS day

On Tuesday 16 September 2008, more than 450 people, including those affected by MS, health professionals and MS society staff and volunteers from around the globe attended Montréal08 – Living with MS: Global Perspectives on Current Issues in Montreal, Canada.

The topics of the genesis of MS, early treatment, cognition and emotions, the future – experimental therapies and caregiving were introduced by people with MS and presented by leading experts from Canada, France, Germany, Norway and the USA.

MSIF and the MS Society of Canada would like to thank all those who were involved in the organisation of the day and the speakers who shared their experiences of living with MS and gave the audience such a valuable insight into current MS management, treatment and research.

Presentations and photographs from the day will soon be available from the event website.

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Atlas of MS Rolls Out, and World Congress of MS Rolls On, with New Data on Repairing MS Damage and New Therapeutic Approaches

Sep 18, 2008 - The Atlas of MS, providing data on MS around the world, was introduced on the second day of the first World Congress on Treatment and Research in MS, along with novel strategies to repair MS damage, new data on children with MS, and updates on alternative interventions. The congress, being held this week in Montreal, Quebec, is the largest international conference on MS research and treatment in 2008.

During the Plenary session, the Don Paty Memorial Lecture by Dr. T. Jock Murray (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia) provided an outstanding overview of progress made over the decades in our understanding of MS. Summing up this progress, he said, “We are moving from a negative era of despair to an era of hope and inspiration for people with MS.”

Atlas of MS
A major effort has been launched to reach out to people with MS in all corners of the globe, and gather the data necessary to provide the best health care services and form the best health care policies. Alan J. Thompson, MD, FRCP (National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London) and colleagues unveiled the Atlas of MS, a joint venture of the World Health Organization and the MS International Federation. The largest ever international survey of its kind reached people in 112 WHO member states, area and territories, representing 88% of the world’s population, to gather data on MS prevalence and the resources available to diagnose, treat, and support people with MS.

The Atlas highlights the need for changes to improve MS care, including efforts to better inform the public and health professionals about the disease, and the need to make health services specific to MS more available and accessible. Survey results are presented in charts, maps and text on the Web site (Abstract #P423)

Repairing and Protecting Against MS Damage
Repairing disease damage is an elusive goal of MS research – thanks to treatments currently on the market, we can often do a reasonable job of stopping the immune attack on the brain and spinal cord, but we still can’t repair the damage it causes. Today, research teams from around the world reported their strides forward in this important aim.

Evidence that an approved therapy, Copaxone® (glatiramer acetate, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries), may contribute to neural health was reported today based on a subgroup of the PreCISe study (in which the drug reduced the risk of developing MS and delayed the development of MS among individuals with CIS – clinically isolated syndrome – a first event suggestive of MS). Douglas L. Arnold, MD (NeuroRx, Montreal) and colleagues used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to examine levels of NAA – a marker of nerve fiber integrity – in a subgroup of 34 people. These levels were significantly higher in people taking Copaxone compared to those on placebo at one year. (Abstract #17)

One experimental strategy under study for repairing tissue damage in MS is cell transplants, such as “mesenchymal stem cells” which are derived from bone marrow. Antonio Uccelli, MD (University of Genoa) studied whether mesenchymal cell transplants would affect the immune attack as well as tissue damage in mice with the MS-like disease EAE. Despite finding little evidence that these cells developed into actual replacement nerve cells, they found evidence that brain tissue was protected from disease, as well as an increase in T cells that regulate the immune attack and a decrease of pro-inflammatory cells. (Abstract #27) Results of an early clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cells are slated to be presented during the conference on September 19.

People with MS have varying symptoms, which means that the underlying damage probably differs as well, and understanding these differences is a vital first step to devising repair strategies. A. Giorgio, MD (University of Siena, Italy) and colleagues examined changes in brain volume over an average time period of 18 months using MRI in 963 people with different types of early and later MS who were involved in placebo arms of clinical trials or who were not taking any disease-modifying therapy. Using a new technique to analyze brain atrophy, the investigators reported that reductions in brain volume were similar in people in the earliest stages of MS as to those in late stages. They concluded that this damage occurs steadily during the disease’s evolution. Further work is needed to verify these findings over longer periods of time. (Abstract #16)

Dr. Hanneke Hulst (VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam) and colleagues reported on a posthoc analysis of data compiled during year one of a clinical trial of the experimental oral therapy ibudilast (MN-166, MediciNova, Inc) involving 297 people with relapsing MS. They found that the relative proportion of acute inflammatory lesions – detected on MRI scans – that evolved into destructive lesions (defined as persistent black holes on MRI scans) was significantly reduced in the treated group compared with the placebo group. This suggests a possible neuroprotective effect of this drug. (Abstract #P271)

Long-term Safety
Now that MS therapies have been on the market for more than 15 years, researchers continue to report on their long-term safety and efficacy. Robert Bermel, MD (Cleveland Clinic Foundation) and colleagues reported on an open-label, multicenter, 15-year follow-up survey of participants in the pivotal phase 3 trial that led to the approval of Avonex® (interferon beta-1a, Biogen Idec) for MS. Of the original 172 participants who completed the original study, 136 were included in this study, and of those 14 were deceased. The data were compiled via questionnaires. About half are still using Avonex, for a median of 13.3 years. 89% of these long-term users stated that their health was good to excellent, and significantly fewer long-term users had reached a disability status score (EDSS) of 6.0 (a score indicating that a person needs intermittent support with a cane or other device to walk) compared with other participants. (Abstract #P14)

Off the Beaten Path
People with MS who share anecdotes about the success of dietary supplements, or other alternative therapeutic strategies, are often frustrated by the answer, “There are not enough data to support the use of this treatment.” At the conference, several groups reported such data on MS therapeutic strategies somewhat off the beaten path.

Growing evidence is linking increased levels of vitamin D to decreased MS risk, but one question is, "Will vitamin D supplements protect people from developing MS?" First, we’d need to know the safety of increasing supplementation in people with MS. Jodie Burton, MD (St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto) and colleagues compared administering escalating doses of vitamin D3 (the equivalent of 4,000 to 40,000 international units per day) to 25 people with MS over 52 weeks, with 24 untreated controls. Calcium levels remained within normal limits. Immune system analysis showed that reactivity of T cells – major players in the MS attack – was reduced. Trends toward clinical improvement were noted, but they were not significant. The group is now planning a phase II study of vitamin D supplementation that will focus on MRI and clinical endpoints. (Abstract #P20)

Ikuo Tsunoda, MD, PhD (University of Utah, Salt Lake City) and colleagues administered resveratrol, a component of red wine, to mice with an MS-like disease induced by a virus. Resveratrol enhances the activity of SIRT1, a molecule that might help to preserve nerve fibers. In this National MS Society-funded effort, treated mice gained more weight than untreated mice, a sign of clinical improvement that the researchers say might be attributed to nerve protection. In mice infected with a low dose of virus, fewer died with resveratrol treatment. The team is proceeding with the pathologic studies necessary to confirm this hypothesis. (Abstract #P212)

Although exercise is helpful in managing many MS symptoms, research on the type and intensity of this exercise continues. Heather Hayes, DPT (University of Utah, Salt Lake City) and colleagues were funded by the National MS Society to compare a standard exercise program with a high-intensity resistance training program in 19 people with moderately severe MS. There were no significant differences in the improvement of strength or mobility between the two programs –fatigue improved significantly in both groups. The results showed no significant additional benefit of this high-intensity program for people with moderately severe MS – such studies help to direct exercise protocols for people with this disease. (Abstract #P385)

Different Mechanisms at Play in African Americans with MS?
Generally, the risk of MS in African Americans is around half that of Caucasian Americans, but research indicates that African Americans tend to have a more aggressive course of the disease. Omar Khan, MD (Wayne State University) and colleagues, funded by the National MS Society, compared the presence of antibodies in the spinal fluid of 150 African Americans with MS and 150 Caucasians with MS, finding increased levels of antibody production among the African American population, and demonstrated correlations between antibody production and central nervous system tissue destruction. This study provides evidence that immune B cells may be responsible for exaggerated signs of inflammatory tissue destruction in African-Americans (as opposed to T cells, often blamed as the prime soldiers in the immune attack). (Abstract #P347) Studies of B cell depletion therapies are underway.

Reports about Pediatric MS
Data are accumulating on the impact of MS in children, thanks to a worldwide network focused on pediatric MS. Emmanuelle Waubant, MD, PhD (Pediatric MS Center of Excellence, San Francisco), funded by the National MS Society, presented a study of 31 individuals whose onset of MS was in childhood versus 31 whose disease began in adulthood. Her team found that children at disease onset carry a higher disease (lesion) burden, as measured by MRI brain scans, than adults at disease onset. (Abstract P290)

Researchers at the National MS Society-funded Pediatric Center of Excellence in Stony Brook, New York, reported on a study of fatigue in 51 children with pediatric MS. William Macallister, PhD, reported that fatigue was a major MS symptom for 43% of these children, who can experience this symptom even early in the disease and in the absence of other significant neurologic impairments. Fatigue can impact school performance and other quality of life issues. (Abstract P397)

Mark Gorman, MD (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston) presented a study comparing disease characteristics of adults with MS and children seen at their National MS Society-supported Pediatric MS Center of Excellence. They found that relapses were more frequent in the pediatric group, despite data that disease progression appears to be slower in pediatric-onset MS. (Abstract P128)

Women and MS
MS typically initially affects women of childbearing age. When young women receive a diagnosis of MS, they frequently have questions about the effects of the disease on childbearing, and vice versa, making this a crucial area for research. Some brief findings reported today in this area include:

• Dr. M. Mendibe (Hospital de Cruces, Baracaldo, Spain) and colleagues analyzed the evolution of disability in 451 women with MS and showed that having children did not affect the development of disability. (Abstract #P99)
• Annette Wundes, MD (University of Washington, Seattle) and colleagues analyzed data from 391 women with MS and showed that significantly fewer have children than the U.S. national average. It is not clear whether this is the result of biological factors or choice. (Abstract #P428)
• Chiara Rivoiro, MD (S. Luigi Gonzaga Hospital, Orbassano, Italy) and colleagues administered gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) -analogue treatment to 12 women undergoing treatment with mitoxantrone to prevent onset of premature ovarian failure – a common long-term consequence of similar chemotherapeutic agents. So far, six women have completed treatment with both agents and have returned to normal menstrual cycles. (Abstract #P446)

There's More
To view the complete list, visit and click on “Scientific Program” and then on “Itinerary Planner”. Then follow the prompts.

Read summaries from other days of the Congress: Day 1, Day 3, Day 4

Avonex is a registered trademark of Biogen Idec.
Betaseron is a registered trademark of Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.
Copaxone is a registered trademark of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Rebif is a registered trademark of EMD Serono, Inc.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More Patients With Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis Are Disease-Free With Natalizumab

DG Dispatch

More Patients With Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis Are Disease-Free With Natalizumab: Presented at WCTRMS

By Danny Kucharsky

MONTREAL -- September 21, 2008 -- Natalizumab significantly increases the proportion of disease-free patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) compared with placebo over 2 years, according to study results presented here at the World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (WCTRMS).

The study, led by Eva Havrdova, MD, General Teaching Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic, evaluated the effects of natalizumab on the proportion of MS patients who were disease free as measured by clinical and magnetic-resonance-imaging (MRI) outcomes in the phase 3 Natalizumab Safety and Efficacy in Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (AFFIRM) study.

The study randomised 627 patients to receive intravenous natalizumab 300 mg and 315 patients to placebo once every 4 weeks for up to 116 weeks.

The post hoc analyses, presented on September 18 by Dr. Havrdova and colleagues, found the proportion of disease-free patients was significantly higher in the natalizumab group compared with the placebo group.

Criteria for clinical disease-free status were no relapse and no disability progression for 12 weeks, free of MRI disease activity, no gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) lesions, and no new or enlarging T2-hyperintense lesions.

Based on clinical outcomes, 70.6% of natalizumab patients had no relapse over 2 years compared with 43.3% of the placebo group. Progression-free status was achieved in 83.6% of natalizumab and 71.7% of placebo patients, and 64.3% of natalizumab and 38.9% of placebo patients were clinically disease-free (P < .0001, for all outcomes).

Natalizumab monotherapy significantly increased the proportion of patients with no Gd+ lesions (94.9% natalizumab vs 56.6% placebo), the proportion with no new or enlarging T2 lesions (58.3% vs 14.9%), and the proportion of patients with no MRI lesion activity (57.7% vs 14.2%) over 2 years compared with placebo (P < .0001, for all outcomes).

The proportion of patients who were free of clinical and MRI disease activity was significantly greater with natalizumab than placebo over 2 years (36.7% vs 7.2%, P < .0001).

Dr. Havrdova said the disease-free concept has not been well considered by the MS community, but should be discussed "because this goal is potentially within reach as more effective therapies are introduced."

Funding for this study was provided by Biogen Idec, Inc. and Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

[Presentation title: Natalizumab Increases the Proportion of Disease-Free Patients in Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. Abstract P62]

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

LINKS to Resources

Information obtained from the MS Foundation website (

Link to Resources

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TYSABRI® Demonstrates Sustained Improvement in...

19 September 2008

TYSABRI® Demonstrates Sustained Improvement in Functional Outcomes in Multiple Sclerosis Patients According to New Post-Hoc Analysis

TYSABRI is the Only Marketed MS Treatment to Show Both Significant Slowing in Disability Progression and Sustained Improvement in Physical Disability

MONTREAL--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 19, 2008--Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) and Elan Corporation, plc (NYSE: ELN) announced that a post-hoc analysis showed TYSABRI® (natalizumab) treatment increases the probability of achieving sustained improvement in physical disability over two years when compared to placebo. This post-hoc analysis provides the first evidence that TYSABRI is associated with a significant improvement in functional outcome, rather than only slowing or preventing progression of disability, in those living with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS). These findings were derived from a subset analysis of the Phase III AFFIRM trial and were presented today as a poster presentation at the World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Montreal, Canada.

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Ask an MS Nurse

An MS Nurse with Multiple Sclerosis

Cherie is not only a registered nurse who happens to have MS, she is also one of about 500 nurses world wide who is classified as a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Nurse by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) and the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN). She has been an RN since 1973, was diagnosed in 1994, and received her MSCN Certification in 2003. Since 1999, Cherie has operated a home based Patient Advocacy business helping people identify the questions needed to be asked of their Health Care Team. Additionally, she fields questions from people with MS all over the globe when it comes to symptom management, side effects of medications used for Multiple Sclerosis, and diet and exercise tips for the person living with a chronic illness.

To ask an MS or health related question of Cherie, email her at and she will try to reply to your concerns in a timely manner.

Or, leave your question here (as a comment) and Cherie will then respond to your questions.
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