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Explorations of Progressive MS Reported at AAN 2019

Blog Summary

At last week’s Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), there was a dedicated session focused on progressive MS. To me, that’s an indicator of the ever-increasing awareness of the need for more research in progressive MS. I think this awareness can be directly linked to efforts of the International Progressive MS Alliance, in which I am involved (by the way, there’s still time to check out this recent Alliance webinar on solving progressive MS). 
 
The AAN meeting involves large general sessions each morning followed by hundreds of parallel sessions and courses related to all types of neurological disorders. Dr. Claudia Lucchinetti of the Mayo Clinic gave a talk about the processes and biological events that scientists believe are involved in progression. One of those events appears to be obstructions in energy production in nerve cells by the mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses that drive cellular activity. This potential mechanism of interest is one reason why researchers are conducting clinical trials to test whether biotin (a B-vitamin) can “feed” the mitochondria and preserve their optimal function. We should know more about biotin when one phase 3 trial is completed around 2020.

Repairing Myelin to Restore Function

Blog Summary

There were many talks about some really interesting and promising research at the 2018 ACTRIMS Forum. What’s great is that you can browse the online abstracts (scientific summaries) of the ACTRIMS Forum presentations and posters to see for yourself.   One of the most interesting and exciting talks I heard was presented by the latest winner of the Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research, Dr. Robin Franklin from Cambridge University. This is the first time that the Barancik Prize has been presented at the ACTRIMS Forum, and he gave a great lecture (here’s a video that introduces Dr. Franklin, in case you’re interested)...

Progressive MS: A Key Topic at MSParis2017

Blog Summary

Greetings from MSParis2017, the name for this year’s joint ACTRIMS/ECTRIMS (American/European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS) meeting held in Paris, France this week. The content of the meeting is online, and we’ve also created a web hub for MSPARIS2017 to help others keep up with the news.   Today, there was an exciting announcement of top-line results from a clinical trial of ibudilast in people with either primary progressive or secondary progressive MS. Ibudilast is an oral therapy, and I’m proud the Society helped fund this trial. Investigators reported that ibudilast reduced brain shrinkage (atrophy), which has been linked to disability. I’m looking forward to hearing additional details about this study during a presentation on Saturday, and especially what plans might be underway for further testing...

When Genes and the Environment Collide

Blog Summary

What happens when genes and the environment interact? This question is one of the complex pieces of the MS puzzle. More than 200 MS susceptibility genes have been identified, and the list of environmental factors linked to MS is slowly coming into focus. Of course, it’s important to remember that not everyone who develops MS has been exposed to the identified MS risk factors, and people exposed to those factors won’t necessarily develop MS. But how do genetic and environmental triggers interact to bring on MS, or make it worse? Several presentations at last week’s ACTRIMS 2017 meeting addressed these important gaps in our knowledge...

Progressive MS at ECTRIMS: New Directions and Challenges

Blog Summary

Greetings from the second full day of the ECTRIMS2016 conference in London. Today was packed with research presentations and poster sessions, all about MS.    There are many different topics being covered at this meeting, and I’d like to focus this blog on one I’m particularly passionate about, progressive MS. A press conference yesterday hosted by the International Progressive MS Alliance, which I help lead, announced new investments of over $14 million US dollars to support three Collaborative Network Awards. These international teams were selected to accelerate the pace of research in key areas... 

Progressive MS: Looking for answers NOW

Blog Summary

People who live with progressive MS have many questions, but one I hear often is, “When will there be treatment options for me?” Based on what I saw and heard at last week’s AAN, I’m pleased to report that researchers from around the world are making important progress toward treatments and therapies for people living with progressive MS. Several groups presented results or updates from large, ongoing studies involving people living with primary-progressive MS: one, a study of oral laquinimod, an experimental immunomodulator,  in 375 people with primary-progressive MS which recently began recruitment ; second, a clinical trial of oral ibudilast, an anti-inflammatory enzyme used in Japan, recruiting 250 people with primary- or secondary-progressive MS; and third, a study of ocrelizumab – an antibody cousin of rituximab delivered by infusion – in 740 people with primary-progressive MS that has completed enrollment. No results are available yet, but some should be next year, and it’s encouraging to see that these trials are getting under way. I hope the findings provide us with new treatment approaches for people with progressive MS. (Abstracts # P7.210, P7.017) ...