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SAN ANTONIO -- About a year after he was barely able to walk due to a frightening disease, Chris Wright was running the floor with the Dallas Mavericks during Wednesday's practice.
Wright became the first-known NBA player to acknowledge having multiple sclerosis when he signed a 10-day deal with Dallas and joined the Mavs in San Antonio. That's a fact that Wright is especially proud of after earning a call-up from the D-League.
"That's definitely one of the things I pride myself on, being the face of it and being an inspiration and motivation for people to keep fighting." said Wright, who averaged 15.5 points, 7.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals for the Iowa Energy this season to earn a D-League All-Star bid. "I made history with this."
Wright was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic, unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system, while playing for Olin Edime in the Turkish Basketball League last season.
The first sign of the disease occurred when his foot gave out while he was running line sprints at the end of a March practice. Wright lost sensation and felt pain and numbness in his right hand, right arm and right leg that night, prompting him to visit multiple doctors and specialists before the disease was finally diagnosed correctly.
Common symptoms of MS include fatigue, numbness, loss of balance, poor coordination, blurred vision and problems with memory and focus, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which estimates that more than 2.1 million people are affected by the disease. In severe cases, MS can cause paralysis. Wright originally was told by Turkish doctors that his basketball career was finished.
Medical researchers make important research link between active ingredient in saffron and diseases that involve neuroinflammation.
(Edmonton) Medical researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered that an active ingredient in the Persian spice saffron may be a potential treatment for diseases that involve neuroinflammation, such as multiple sclerosis.
Chris Power and a team of researchers in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry recently published their findings in the peer-reviewed publication, The Journal of Immunology.
“We found there is a compound in saffron, known as crocin, which exerts a protective effect in brain cell cultures and other models of MS. It prevented damage to cells that make myelin in the brain,” Power said. “Myelin is insulation around nerves, and multiple sclerosis is characterized by inflamed brain cells that have lost this protective insulation, which ultimately leads to neurodegeneration.”
Power noted they are not close to a clinical trial stage yet, but the finding is still exciting. It has been known in the research community for years that crocin protected neurons in certain situations but Power and his team wanted to delve further into this area.
His team discovered that inflammation and a specific type of cell stress are closely linked and lead to neurodegeneration and inflammation, which cause cells to lose their protective coating, a process known as demyelination. In experiments conducted by Power and his colleagues, the use of crocin suppressed both inflammation and this specific type of cell stress, resulting in decreased neurological impairment in lab models and cell cultures with multiple sclerosis.
“There are still many questions to be answered about how crocin exerts these neuroprotective effects, but this research highlights a potential treatment role for crocin in diseases involving chronic neuroinflammation something that had not been recognized until now,” says Power.
He explained the research demonstrates a new mechanism in multiple sclerosis, provides new potential drug targets in the future and helps explain why physicians see inflammation in multiple sclerosis.
The team’s research also revealed that this specific type of cell stress, called the unfolded protein response, may be caused by an ancient virus that was introduced into the DNA of early humans. This particular cell stress is found at high levels in MS brain lesions.
“We all have this ancient virus in our DNA, but for some reason it is excessively turned on in MS,” says Power. “We are doing more research investigating this link.”
Power has been investigating this specific area for six to seven years. His research is funded by the MS Society of Canada and the federal government through the Canada Research Chair program.
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner
SAN DIEGO – All multiple sclerosis patients taking natalizumab (Tysabri) who were diagnosed with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) before symptoms appeared were still alive a year later, researchers said.
In contrast, nearly a quarter of patients in whom PML was diagnosed on the basis of clinical symptoms died, according to Tuan Dong-Si, MD, of Biogen Idec, natalizumab's manufacturer.
They suggested that MRI data for all patients on natalizumab should be examined carefully for signs of PML, including those who are asymptomatic.
The retrospective study of 319 patients developing natalizumab-associated PML worldwide was reported in an abstract to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting, which begins here on March 16.
PML is a severe brain inflammation resulting from reactivation of latent infection with the JC virus.
The latter is extremely common and causes no symptomatic disease in most people. However, it can become dangerously active in individuals with suppression of certain aspects of their immune function.
PML was first noticed in patients receiving immunosuppressive cancer therapies and then in connection with AIDS. It appeared in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients treated with natalizumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting a leukocyte adhesion factor, shortly after the drug was approved in 2004.
The drug was removed from the U.S. market for 16 months, then relaunched with a strict distribution and registry program. However, PML cases continue to appear. Because of the risk, natalizumab is generally used as second-line therapy for MS.
As of Jan. 1, 2013, a total of 319 cases associated with natalizumab have been tracked by Biogen Idec and its marketing partner, Elan Pharmaceuticals, according to Dong-Si and colleagues.
In their review of records for these cases, the researchers identified 21 in whom PML was diagnosed prior to onset of symptoms, on the basis of routine MRI scans conducted for MS patients.
They found that all 21 were still living 12 months after diagnosis, whereas 228 of the 298 diagnosed with symptomatic PML had survived.
Dong-Si and colleagues also examined data on the trajectory of disability prior to and after PML diagnosis, finding that the patients with early PML diagnosis appeared to fare much better.
In particular, mean Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores were substantially higher in the patients diagnosed symptomatically and Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores were significantly lower, although these data were available for only a minority of patients.
At the patients' last clinic visit prior to diagnosis of PML, mean EDSS and KPS scores were similar between those subsequently diagnosed with asymptomatic versus symptomatic PML (EDSS 3.2 versus 3.8, respectively, P=0.263; KPS 88.0 versus 80.1, respectively, P=0.144).
A recent clinical trial found that interferonβ-1a (INF) and glatiramer acetate (GA), two of the most commonly prescribed drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS), provide no additional clinical benefit when taken together. While findings published today in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, suggest that taking both INF and GA together was not superior to GA monotherapy in reducing relapse risk; the combination therapy does appear to reduce new lesion activity and total lesion volume.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) describes MS as a neuroinflammatory disease, which affects the central nervous system by attacking myelin, a substance found in nerve fibers. NINDS estimates that up to 350,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with MS, which affects twice as many women as men, with most symptoms appearing between the ages of 20 and 40. Experts believe this complex autoimmune disease may be caused by genetic and environmental factors.
"While there are a number of drugs to treat MS, our study is the first to investigate if the concurrent use of two drugs with different modes of action would provide any additional clinical benefit without side effects," explains lead author Dr. Fred Lublin, Director of the Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. "The CombiRx study was designed to assess whether IFN and GA in combination was more effective than either alone in reducing relapse of MS."
The research team enrolled 1,008 participants from 68 sites in this double-blind, randomized, controlled phase III trial. Participants received IFN plus GA (499), IFN alone (250), or GA alone (259), with 30µg IFN administered intramuscularly weekly and/or 20 mg of GA injected daily. The groups were followed for three years to assess if the combination therapy reduced MS relapse rates.
Trial results found that the IFN plus GA combination did not lessen disease progression according to the Expanded Disability Status Scale (a measure of disability caused by MS) or show change in the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (measure used during clinical trials to assess leg, arm, and cognitive function in MS patients) better than the individual agents over a three-year period. The combination therapy and GA alone were significantly better than IFN in reducing relapse risk. MRI findings also suggested that the IFN plus GA together were better in reducing new lesions (plaques) and total lesion accumulation than either drug alone.
Dr. Lublin concludes, "Combining two of the most commonly prescribed MS therapies did not produce significant clinical benefit, reducing relapse risk, during the three-year study period. We will continue to monitor this group to determine if the combination therapy displays positive results, particularly in reducing lesion activity, beyond the initial trial timeframe."
In a related editorial, Dr. Stephen L. Hauser, Department of Neurology Chair at University of California, San Francisco and Editor-in-Chief of Annals adds, "In the end, CombiRx was essentially a negative study, with the combination therapy doing no better than monotherapy in reducing MS relapse rate over three years. However, the continued follow-up of this group by Dr. Lublin and colleagues provides an opportunity to develop a comprehensive long-term history of MS—assessing response to first-generation therapies, possibly predicting individual disease trajectories, and understanding of treatment response. CombiRx could emerge as a model for long-term assessment, not only in MS, but across clinical neuroscience."
This CombiRx study was funded by a grant from the NINDS—a part of the National Institutes of Health.
This study is published in Annals of Neurology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Stu's Views: A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Tony Ortiz who mentioned to me that a mutual friend suggested he contact me with regards to his Mission to ride in the MS200. In years past, Tony always rode for a specific person with MS. For his soon coming ride, he wanted a new face and our mutual friend suggested me. I felt honored that Tony wanted to do this for me as remember everyone, I too have Multiple Sclerosis. My picture will adorn his bicycle ..Hey, the picture alone should get him some compliments (LOL)... And Tony asked me to provide him with some of my story so that he knows what he is riding for.
I mentioned to Tony that although I founded MS Views and News and although we provide MS education, there still has to be organizations such as the MS Society who provide research funding and so, I would be delighted to pass along his request for dollars. Dollars so needed to fund MS research and dollars needed by the MS Society that also individually helps MS patients.
Please continue reading. Read Tony's message (shown below) and then please consider a $10.00 contribution to enable Tony's efforts to be seen...
Riders like Tony, need to be thanked and the best way to thank them is to contribute through them for their efforts...
It has been quite some time since I have assisted soemone riding in the Bike Tour and so, I am asking you to assist me to assist Tony. - $10.00 is what I am asking for anyone who can make this contribution.
Thank You -- Regards, Stuart Schlossman
This time it’s the ride of the century. Well, actually, two centuries, the MS200. And as I gear up (imagine me in spandex), I’m preparing for some serious pedaling; 100 miles down to the Florida Keys, and 100 miles back.
As I face this 200-mile effort, know that I am so very thankful to each of you for your support and encouraging words, this year, and years past.
Stuart lends an incredible amount of support to the community. If you’d like to learn how MS can affect vision, need info on symptom management, or what MS drugs are in the pipeline, visit: http://www.msviews.org/msviewsandnews4/
There are only days remaining until the ride, and I’ve only achieved 3% of my goal. So, please, help quick, and help large. As I’ve said in years past, thank-you in advance for any support you can send this worthy direction.
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
SAN DIEGO -- Hormone pulse therapy may be effective at treating breakthrough multiple sclerosis (MS), with a more favorable profile for relapse and psychiatric side effects, researchers reported here.
In a pilot study, patients treated with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) with beta-interferon for breakthrough MS had a more than nine-fold lower risk of relapse versus treatment with methylprednisolone and beta-interferon (risk ratio 9.56, 95% CI 1.23 to 74.6, P=0.03), according to Regina Berkovich, MD, PhD, of the University of Southern California Keck Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues.
Those treated with ACTH had no psychiatric episodes compared with those treated with methylprednisolone (P<0.0001), the authors reported in an abstract to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting, which begins here on March 16.
Although ACTH gel is approved to treat MS relapses, its use as pulse therapy is unclear, the authors stated.
The single-center study evaluated the safety and efficacy of combination ACTH and beta-interferon, compared with methylprednisolone and beta-interferon, for breakthrough MS in 23 patients receiving ongoing beta-interferon treatment.
Participants were eligible if they had Expanded Disability Status Scale scores of 3.0 to 6.5 and more than one relapse or new T2- or gadolinium-enhanced lesion on MRI within the previous year.
Patients were randomly assigned to open-label ACTH (80 units intramuscular injection once daily for 3 consecutive days) or methylprednisolone (1 g intravenously at one dose) every month for 12 months.
Participants were assessed every 3 months over 15 months for relapse rate, disability, MS functional composite, and quality of life.
Over 15 months, those receiving ACTH had a cumulative 0.08 relapses per patient versus 0.8 per patient among those receiving methylprednisolone.
There were no psychiatric episodes among those in the ACTH arm, while in the methylprednisolone arm had a combined 0.55 psychiatric episodes per patient.
While mixed effect modeling showed no difference between groups in trajectory slopes of EDSS over time, there was a significantly stronger (P=0.03) improvement in Mental Health Inventory for ACTH (slope: 0.95/month, P=0.02) compared with methylprednisolone (slope: 0.29/month, P=0.32).
The ACTH group also had a lower cumulative rate of urinary tract infections (0.16 infections per patient versus 0.65 for placebo), although the difference was not significant.
Limitations of the study were the small sample size due to the single-center demographic and lack of blinding.
The authors noted that future research should include randomized, controlled trials to validate their findings.
The study was funded by Questcor Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
The authors declared no conflicts of interest.
Primary source: American Academy of Neurology Source reference: Berkovich R, et al. "Pilot study of monthly pulse adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) or methylprednisolone as an add-on therapy to beta-interferons for long-term treatment of multiple sclerosis" AAN 2013; Abstract P04.269.
A South Florida university has opened what's being billed as a one-of-a-kind neuroscience institute dedicated to cracking some of the medical world's most mysterious diseases.
Nova Southeastern University officials say their new Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine in Davie is the first in the country to not only treat patients with such conditions as chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War illness, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis — but also to research the ailments' causes and possible treatments, all under one roof.
"The concept is to act as a think tank, with patients and scientists in one place," said institute director Dr. Nancy Klimas, a leading clinician in neuro-immune disorders. "It sounds boring, but boy, is it liberating."
Though the institute began in concept last year, it opened the doors on a new $5 million building in February and welcomed its first patients to the facility this week. Together with a sister facility Klimas oversees in Kendall, the center expects to accommodate 1,300 patients.
For now, it is seeing only patients with chronic fatigue and Gulf War symptoms, disorders that have eluded explanation and treatment for decades. But Klimas said she expects to expand into the study and treatment of Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis in the next year once funds become available.