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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

MS and Mental Illness

MAY 22, 2018   

Spring has sprung! As I look around, Mother Earth is in bloom. Trees are sprouting new leaves, plants are growing, and the grass is green once again. I love spring and all that it represents — hopes for new birth and rebirth. For those who are unaware, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
I write this week to encourage those who are battling and surviving mental illness and any related disorders. It serves to urge everyone to actively recognize the warning signs of someone in need of assistance. This column is a call to action to offer support, empathy, a safe environment, and to eradicate stigma.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that one in five adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness, and one in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness. Mental health continues to be an issue that is under-discussed, undertreated, and often ignored. However, there are warning signs.
My experiences of having MS and heart disease have introduced me to depression and anxiety. From my window seat, my eyes opened to the struggle that many people face on a daily basis. I have vowed to learn about mental health disorders, speak openly about them, share my personal experience, get acquainted with available resources, and offer encouraging words.
On my journey as a heart health and MS advocate, I have met people who struggle, survive, and thrive with mental illness. I have realized that there is one commonality that we possess, which is to know that we matter. We need to know that someone cares and that they hear our voices. There is a desire to feel that we have value and the longing to feel that life, in all of its tragedy and turmoil, is really worth living.
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Subcutaneous Ofatumumab a Safe, Effective RRMS Therapy at Low Doses, Trial Results Show

May 23rd, 2018

A formulation of ofatumumab (brand name Arzerra) to be injected under the skin (subcutaneous) was found to be safe and effective in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), even when given at lower doses compared with Arzerra, which is administered intravenously, according to the results of a Phase 2 trial.

Subcutaneous Ofatumumab a Safe, Effective RRMS Therapy at Low Doses, Trial Results Show

Besides offering the possibility of self-administration by the patient, treatment with subcutaneous ofatumumab was seen to effectively reduce the number of brain lesions without leading to severe depletion of immune B-cells, one of the consequences of treatment with intravenous Arzerra.
The study reporting the findings is titled “Subcutaneous ofatumumab in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis — The MIRROR study,” and was published in the journal Neurology.
Ofatumumab is a human monoclonal antibody targeting the CD20 molecule, which is found on the surface of B-cells or lymphocytes — key cells of the immune system also implicated in the development of multiple sclerosis.
Arzerra is currently the only approved ofatumumab formulation, indicated for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a blood cancer that typically develops in B-cells.
By targeting CD20, ofatumumab is able to direct the body’s immune system to fight both normal and cancerous B-cells. The medication is marketed and developed by the Danish biotech company Genmab, under a development and commercialization agreement with Novartis.



Sativex Can Improve Driving Ability of MS Patients, Study Says

May 22, 2018

Sativex, a cannabis-based anti-spasticity medicine commercialized as oromucosal spray by GW Pharmaceuticals, improves the driving ability of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to researchers.

Sativex and driving

Driving is an important task to help MS patients maintain the activities of daily living, including their independence, social interactions and access to work, healthcare, family and shopping.
However, MS is associated with physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities, like muscle spasticity or visual and auditory impairment, that may affect the daily living functions of patients.
Some MS treatments also are known to negatively affect the driving ability of patients. Disease-modifying drugs (DMDs), corticosteroids, and other medicines used to manage symptoms like depression, anxiety, pain and muscle spasticity, affect patients’ driving performance, including wakefulness, coordination, reaction times, and concentration.

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