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Thursday, November 29, 2012

MS Patients' Driving Capability Assessed

A simple, accurate testing protocol to determine driving fitness in individuals withmultiple sclerosis is the aim of a three-year study at Georgia Health Sciences University.

Dr. Abiodun Akinwuntan, Interim Associate Dean for Research in the GHSU College of Allied Health Sciences, has received a $360,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for phase one of a double-site study. Recruitment is underway for 90 participants at the GHSU Multiple Sclerosis Clinic in Augusta and an equal number at the Andrew C. Carlos MS Institute at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. 

"Multiple sclerosis is a progressive neurological disease that affects the ability to drive. In the early stages, it is possible for some patients to remain safe drivers; however, it is only a matter of time before the disease progresses to a level where driving is unsafe," said Akinwuntan, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, Neurology and Ophthalmology and Director of the GHSU Driving Simulation Laboratory. 

The accident rate for drivers with MS is estimated to be three times higher than that of similarly aged healthy individuals, said Akinwuntan. 

In an earlier study, Akinwuntan assessed 50 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, the most common of four types, and determined that just five specific fitness-to-drive tests could predict pass or fail outcomes on a road test with 91 percent accuracy. 

Current practices administer 15 to 22 tests that last up to three hours and cost as much as $450. The five psychometric off-road tests can be given in less than 45 minutes for approximately $150. 

The new study hopes to validate those findings by including patients with all four types of MS, expanding the number of subjects to 180, and narrowing participation to those who score between 3 and 7 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale. 

"Studies have shown that typically those who score below 2.5 are relatively good drivers and those above 7 are not to fit to drive," Akinwuntan said. "So we are concentrating on those people in the middle who are starting to experience deficits that would affect their driving." 

A planned second phase of the NMSS study will focus on drivers' training. Running concurrent with phase one is a supplementary study funded by an Extramural Success Award from the GHSU Research Institute to compare driving simulation training with Wii-based exercise training to determine the more effective treatment. Dr. Miriam Cortez-Cooper is co-investigator. 

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The anticipation of the holidays can be either exciting or stressful.

AN EMPOWERED SPIRIT - written by: Cathy Chester


Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season has begun.  The anticipation of the holidays can be either exciting or stressful.  For some it can be both.
Are the holidays a time of great joy for you, or a reminder of a great sadness? 
Will you be spending time with family and friends, or do you spend the holidays alone?
Do you worry endlessly about the many gifts, holiday cards, food preparations, parties and outfits you need to have ready for the season?
Anyone that knows me knows one of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”   It’s so “Capraesque.”  The first time I saw it I was with my dad during a sleepless night.  We kept the lights off in our den, and turned on the television to The Late, Late Show.  I remember feeling completely absorbed as soon as the movie began.  It was pure magic watching George Bailey have the chance to see how his life touched the lives of others, and to see how their lives would have been different without him. His community of family and friends deeply cared about his well being, and they worked tirelessly to help him in his time of need. It was a perfect movie with a timeless message.  It was the Utopia of my dreams.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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Multiple sclerosis - possible trigger for nerve damage

by Anil Kumar

Multiple sclerosis - possible trigger for nerve damage

High-resolution real-time images show in mice how nerves may be damaged during the earliest stages of multiple sclerosis. The results suggest that the critical step happens when fibrinogen, a blood-clotting protein, leaks into the central nervous system and activates immune cells called microglia.

"We have shown that fibrinogen is the trigger," said Katerina Akassoglou, Ph.D., an associate investigator at the Gladstone Institute for Neurological Disease and professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, and senior author of the paper published online in Nature Communications.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is thought to be an autoimmune disease in which cells that normally protect the body against infections attack nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, often leading to problems with vision, muscle strength, balance and coordination, thinking and memory. Typically during MS, the immune cells destroy myelin, a protective sheath surrounding nerves, and eventually leading to nerve damage. The immune attack also causes leaks in the blood-brain barrier, which normally separates the brain from potentially harmful substances in the blood.

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Note: the information found in this article seems to be a theory and not yet proven
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Cyclosporine And Tacrolimus Combination Proves Effective In The Treatment Of Multiple Sclerosis

November 26, 2012

A new substance class for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases now promises increased efficacy paired with fewer side effects. To achieve this, a team of scientists have combined two already approved pharmaceutical substances with each other using a chemical linker structure. 

 Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system. It destroys the insulation of the nerve cell signaling system, the myelin sheaths of the neural axons. The consequence of this process is the malfunction of signaling and finally cell death resulting in permanent neurological problems. The cause of multiple sclerosis is that the body itself attacks the cellular components of the myelin sheaths, the oligodendrocytes, so researchers embarked on a search for intervention options that could protect brain cells from these attacks - to prevent the damage and loss of brain cells but also to develop a medication that has a positive impact on cell regeneration. 

The combination seeks to ensure maximum brain cell protection and the suppression of unwanted side effects on the other. The new class of substances has now been registered with the European Patent Office by the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the Max Planck Research Unit.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Positivity is key to dealing with MS



‘YOU either adapt or you go under’, says one multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferer who believes positivity is the key to living with the disease.


Two long-term sufferers have told the Mercury what MS is like in the wake of the death of Monica Cooke, who starved herself in September after the disease caused her to suffer a loss of dignity and a quality of life which would see a ‘dog put down’.
The condition is caused by parts of the nervous system in the brain and spinal cord becoming damaged, often resulting in loss of mobility and bladder control as well as muscle weakness and speech problems, although symptoms vary from person to person.
Mum-of-two Sandie Cheshire, aged 67, of Hanover Close, Weston, has been living with MS since 1984 and has been taking care of herself, having divorced from her husband several years earlier.
Although Sandie needs a scooter to get around in town and has to catheterise herself, she says being positive is the key and that she is ‘hell-bent’ on staying out of a wheelchair for as long as possible.
But the condition has had a big impact on her hobbies.
Sandie said: “I expected to be one of those grandmothers that played football with their grandchildren, but I can’t.
“But I think one of the most frustrating things about this is not being able to dance.
“I always used to be the first one on the dance floor and the last one off.
“I used to be very sporty. I used to do a lot of sport and now I can’t, it is very, very frustrating.
“But I count myself as lucky because I don’t need a chair and I can still speak.
“I am so hell-bent on not being in a chair that I push it out of my mind. I am on my own – a lot of my friends that have a chair have husbands that can help them.
“I don’t want to be a burden to my children.”
After being diagnosed, Sandie held down four jobs at one point, including waitressing, babysitting and working behind a bar.
She added: “I just thought ‘I have got to get on with it’. I think having a positive mental attitude helps.”
Asked about what happened to Mrs Cooke, she said: “The trouble with MS is that it affects different people in different ways. I am lucky I have had it so long and I can still walk.

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Apitope announces completion of recruitment in ATX-MS-1467 Phase I trial for MS

November 26th, 2012


Apitope, the European drug discovery and development company focused on treating the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases, today announced completion of recruitment into its second Phase I clinical trial of ATX-MS-1467 in patients withmultiple sclerosis (MS). Receipt of the first dose of study treatment by the last patient to be recruited prompted an undisclosed clinical milestone payment from Merck Serono, a division of Merck, Germany, with whom Apitope is developing ATX-MS-1467.

ATX-MS-1467 is a novel treatment that was developed with the aim of working with the immune system to treat the underlying cause of disease rather than just treating the symptoms or suppressing the entire immune system, and thus restore immunological balance.

ATX-MS-1467 has already completed successfully a Phase I clinical trial in six patients with secondary progressive MS (SPMS). Based on these encouraging preliminary results, a second Phase I clinical trial has been implemented to assess the safety of ATX-MS-1467 as well as biological parameters in a group of 40 patients with relapsing MS.

The clinical trial is being carried out at two hospitals in the UK, as well as 12 clinics in Russia. Dosing of ATX-MS-1467 is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.

Dr. Jeremy Chataway, Chief Investigator for the trial, from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London commented: "ATX-MS-1467 could serve as a treatment option for patients with multiple sclerosis so this is an important step in the current trial."

The primary endpoint of the trial is safety and tolerability, as assessed by adverse effects and MRI scans, while secondary endpoints are designed to provide an insight into the immunological activity of this investigational treatment. A range of doses of ATX-MS-1467 is being administered either intra-dermally or sub-cutaneously once every two weeks for 16 weeks, with a further 24 weeks of post-treatment follow up.

Apitope is developing ATX-MS-1467 with Merck Serono, a market leader in the treatment of MS


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Combination of two pharmaceuticals proves effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis


Bonn/Magdeburg/Halle, 26/11/2012. A new substance class for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases now promises increased efficacy paired with fewer side effects. To achieve this, a team of scientists under the leadership of Prof. Gunter Fischer (Max Planck Research Unit for Enzymology of Protein Folding, Halle/Saale, Germany) and Dr. Frank Striggow (German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)) have combined two already approved pharmaceutical substances with each other using a chemical linker structure. The objectives of this combination are to ensure maximum brain cell protection on the one hand and the suppression of unwanted side effects on the other. The new class of substances has now been registered with the European Patent Office as the DZNE's first patent in the form of a joint patent application with the Max Planck Research Unit. "The patent approval process can take several years. During this phase we are planning to conclude the pre-clinical development. It is our aim to start with clinical research and development at the earliest possible time. Overall, we have identified substantial therapeutic potential as far as chronic and age-related neurodegenerative diseases are concerned," comments Dr. Frank Striggow.

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system. It destroys the insulation of the nerve cell signaling system, the myelin sheaths of the neural axons. The consequence of this process is the malfunction of signaling and finally cell death resulting in permanent neurological problems. The cause of multiple sclerosis is that the body itself attacks the cellular components of the myelin sheaths, the oligodendrocytes. Hence, the team of scientists under the direction of Prof. Gunter Fischer and Dr. Frank Striggow embarked on a search for intervention options that could protect brain cells from these attacks. The goal was not only to prevent the damage and loss of brain cells, but also to develop a medication that has a positive impact on cell regeneration.

The used components of the Cyclosporine and FK506 (tacrolimus)-series have been utilized in a chemically slightly altered form as immunosuppressant medications for a long time. Both suppress the cellular immune defenses. This effect is necessary in conjunction with organ transplants, but otherwise problematic for the organism. The specific combination of the two substances amplifies the protective effect on the nerve cells thanks to different but synergistic efficacy mechanisms. The impact on the immune defense is reduced at the same time, which results in fewer side effects. Both of these achievements were corroborated by experiments. An application for a patent protecting this new class of active ingredients has now been filed. Ascenion GmbH and Max Planck Innovation both attend the project as utilization partners of the DZNE and of the Max Planck Society.


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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Managing MS Fatigue


Of all the symptoms that can affect people with multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue may be the most common. Fatigue can have a variety of causes, including:
  • The physical effects of multiple sclerosis
  • Lack of sleep due to other MS symptoms such as bladder problems
  • Heat and stress
  • Depression
  • Side effects of MS medications
When you're living with MS, fatigue may be one of the biggest and most persistent challenges. The good news is, there are some simple strategies for dealing with MS-related fatigue. With a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a little planning, you can manage your energy levels and better manage MS fatigue.


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Multiple Sclerosis and Bladder Function


For many people, living with MS means coping with decreased bladder function. That's because an MS lesion in the brain or spinal cord can block the signal from the nervous system that controls bladder muscles and the urinary sphincters that regulate the urine stream. This can create problems with either urine storage or emptying. People who cannot fully empty their bladders are at a higher risk for developing a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Symptoms, Tests and Treatments

Determining with your healthcare provider what type of bladder dysfunction you have is usually straightforward. The most common method is to measure how much leftover or residual urine is in the bladder after it is emptied. This can be done either by inserting a catheter, removing the residual urine and measuring, or by taking images of the bladder using an ultrasound. In both cases, if the residual amount is less than 100ml, the problem may be storage. If it is greater than 100ml, the problem may be incomplete emptying.
Potential symptoms include:
  • Frequency
  • Urgency
  • Dribbles
  • Incontinence
  • Nocturia 
  • Difficulty starting to void
People with MS can help take control of their bladder function by taking certain medications as prescribed, being aware of their surroundings, and planning ahead. In some cases, your doctor may recommend Kegel exercises, or suggest using incontinence pads or catheters.
Typically, your neurologist will try several ways to treat bladder dysfunction; however, if he or she is unsuccessful, you may be referred to a urologist.

Source: MS Active Source
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MANAGING Holiday Stress

For many people, the holidays are "the most wonderful time of the year." The sights, sounds, and scents of the season can put you in the mood to celebrate. But all those festivities can take their toll in the form of stress, especially for someone living with MS.


Try following these tips to help preserve your holiday cheer: 

* Be realistic. Don't put pressure on yourself by setting oversized expectations. 

* Set limits. Remember that you don't have to accept everything. Turn down those projects or activities that are more than you can handle. 


* Plan ahead. Take some of the stress out of holiday entertaining by doing as much as you can in advance. The more you can get out of the way early, the less pressure there'll be later on.



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