ECTRIMS Highlights from Lyon, France

Dec 9 2012

A few highlights from the ECTRIMS global meeting in October 2012:

Remyelination:  Making new myelin.  OPCs (oligodendrocyte precursor cells) are cells that can mature to become myelin-creating oligodendrocytes.  Research was presented on ways to turn on these OPCs (activation) and attract the OPCs to the MS plaques (recruitment).  Specific factors may speed up or prevent maturing of these OPCs to make myelin.  One optimistic approach is anti-Lingo antibody therapy in early clinical trials in Europe.

GALA trial:  Copaxone 40 mg (double dose) three times a week (rather than daily) vs. placebo in 1404 patients.  Copaxone 40 mg three times a week reduced new relapses 34% and reduced MRI activity with contrast 45%.

TOWER Trial:   Aubagio (teriflunomide) 14 mg vs. 7 mg vs. placebo in 1169 patients.   Aubagio 14 mg dose reduced new relapses 36.3% and 7 mg dose reduced new relapses 22.3%.  Only the Aubagio 14 mg dose reduced the likelihood of disability progression (31.5%).   Some side effects of Aubagio were high liver blood tests (14%), hair thinning (13.5%),  and diarrhea (11%).  The MS Center for Innovations in Care was a site for this trial.

CUPID Trial:  An active component of cannibis is THC.  In some animal models, THC has been shown to have neuroprotective benefits.  The CUPID trial randomized 493 MS patients with either primary or secondary progressive disease to either oral THC or placebo for 3 years.  The 27 center study in the United Kingdom unfortunately demonstrated no benefit on preventing disability.  When going back and reanalyzing the data  (which is not very reliable),  some benefit was seen in those individuals walking without assistance at entry to the trial.   Disclosure: THC use may be illegal depending on your location.

Potassium channel antibodies (KIR4.1 antibodies)  were found in the blood of  47% of people with MS, 0.9% of patients with other neurological disorders and none of the people without neurological disorders.  If other researchers can confirm the finding, the blood test for the potassium channel antibodies might be useful for diagnosing MS or even potentially understanding the cause of MS.

BY: Barry Singer, MD DATE: December 9, 2012 TOPIC: MS Research News