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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

CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH

PUBLIC RELEASE: 
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.
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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.
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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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