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ECTRIMS 2016: Bone Marrow Transplantation (HSCT)

Blog Summary

It’s nighttime here in London, England after the first full day of ECTRIMS – the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS. This meeting is the world’s largest gathering of MS researchers in the world, with more than 8,000 clinical and research professionals from across the globe, including many Society-funded researchers and fellows, meeting to share their cutting-edge research findings, to network and collaborate.
 
It was a jam-packed day of science!  For this blog, I want to share my impressions of a staged debate that was focused on the topic of hematopoietic (bone marrow) stem cell transplantation – HSCT for short...

DDR, Anyone?

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Have you ever tried your hand – or your feet – at the video dance game Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR? I played a few times when my kids went through their DDR phase a few years ago. It was lots of fun, and a great challenge, trying to keep up with the game’s fast-paced, ever-changing dance moves. It required every ounce of concentration I could muster. And, let me tell you, it wasn’t a pretty sight! I haven’t tried (or even thought about) DDR in years. But my curiosity was piqued when I read this article  about how DDR is helping some people with multiple sclerosis work on their balance, coordination, physical fitness and cognition. Researchers at The Ohio State University have mounted a study in which people with relapsing-remitting MS practice DDR a few times a week. One woman quoted in the news report said she’d seen improvement in her symptoms and her overall quality of life since taking part in the study.

New pill on the block

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I was thrilled to see that another oral therapy for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis* has been approved by the FDA. With the arrival of Tecfidera (formerly "BG-12"), which should be available by prescription any time now, there are three oral therapies and a total of 10 disease-modifying treatments available in the U.S.   When I was diagnosed in 2001, there were just four therapies available. I take the fact that that number has more than doubled – and that options have expanded to include oral therapies in addition to the injectables – as a sign of the progress science has made in tackling this mysterious disease.   Having a new oral therapy on the market also makes me wonder, as I have several times in the past, whether I would be inclined to trade my daily injections for pills. I have been on the same therapy since I was diagnosed, and I have to say I’ve grown pretty attached to it.   Not that I like the big dents in my legs where the shots I give myself have degraded the underlying tissue. Nor am I a huge fan of the blue bruises on the undersides of my upper arms that mark the spots of those injection sites. And sometimes the shots I give myself in my belly just plain hurt. But I am thankful that I have never had a problem with my medication – and double triple thankful that the stuff, knock on wood, seems to be doing a great job at keeping my disease at bay.   Such a great job, in fact, that I don’t think I’d be inclined to switch to an oral therapy just for the convenience of it. But for all my fellow MSers whose therapies aren’t proving sufficient, and for all those newly diagnosed people who are sorting through their therapeutic options, I’m thrilled that this new pill’s available and that more are on the way.   You can read more about Tecfidera here and about the full array of MS therapies here.   *People with relapsing-remitting MS and people with secondary-progressive MS and progressive-relapsing MS who continue to have relapses