Straight from Philly: American Academy of Neurology Meeting News

May 7 2014

American Academy of Neurology meeting in Philadelphia  just wrapped up.   Here’s some new information presented at the meeting.

1.  Estriol, a pregnancy hormone, was studied in addition to Copaxone.  During the last trimester of pregnancy, estriol levels increase and relapses decrease.  In a double-blind trial of 164 multiple sclerosis patients, relapses decreased 47% over one year on estriol and Copaxone compared to placebo and Copaxone (p=0.0326).  However,  relapses dropped only 32% at 2 years which was not statistically significant (p=0.015).  No significant impact on MRI imaging was seen at 2 years.

2. Alfacalcidol, synthetic compound with similarities to Vitamin D, reduced fatigue compared to placebo in a study of 158 MS patients.  More patients on Alfacalcidol remained relapse-free.

3.  B cells are a type of lymphocyte (white blood cell) that play a role in MS disease.  Data was presented on ofatumumab injected under the skin.  This antibody therapy knocks out B cells by attached to a B-cell marker CD20.  Significant impacts were seen on MRI activity based on doses studied.  Risks included injection-related reactions, low potassium and one patient had a cytokine release syndrome.

4.  The gut plays an important role in the body’s immune system.   Researchers found that MS patients have a higher levels of methnobrevibacter in stool samples.  This bowel bug is not a bacteria, but considered an archaea.  Methane breathing test might eventually be useful in multiple sclerosis.

5.  Melatonin can help with sleep, but what about a role in MS?  High relapse rates are associated with low melatonin levels in urine.  Melatonin may have positive effects on immune cells (IL-17 cells) by making them less inflammatory.

6.  Men with MS:  How’s your testosterone level?  40% of men are deficient in a study of multiple sclerosis patients, early in the disease course.

BY: Barry Singer, MD DATE: May 7, 2014 TOPIC: MS Research News