Emerging therapies at the American Academy of Neurology meeting


I’m excited to be reporting from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) meeting in San Diego; it’s quite impressive to see large auditoriums overflowing with neurologists and other professionals attending presentations about emerging therapies in MS. Over the next few days I will share what I believe to be the most interesting MS research being presented here.

One study I’m particularly intrigued by is a small trial of the blood pressure medicine, Amiloride, in 14 people with primary progressive MS. Amiloride had been shown previously to have neuroprotective properties – the study authors found that treatment resulted in a lessening of brain shrinkage associated with progressive MS. I am looking forward to seeing if this medication has similar effects in a larger study underway in the United Kingdom.

Another study of over 1000 people with MS is underway – designed to determine if Gilenya can slow down disability in primary-progressive MS, compared to placebo, after 3 to 5 years of treatment. I also find it encouraging that several other large studies like this for progressive MS are currently in planning or underway.

While there have been many successful new therapies introduced in the past two decades, most prove ineffective for people with progressive forms of MS. What excites me most about these studies is that they aim to bridge this gap and offer hope for real treatment options for people with progressive MS.

The first results of a phase III trial of peginterferon beta-1a in relapsing MS are also being presented. The study is testing a new formulation of Avonex that should stay in the body longer than the standard treatment. Successful trial results could mean that the frequency of dosing could be extended to as long as once every four weeks – reducing the frequency of injections.

I also attended presentations on various outcomes from extension trials of BG-12 and alemtuzimab. Researchers continue to add to our knowledge of the risks and benefits of these two meds currently being evaluated by the FDA for the treatment of relapsing MS. Studies are also underway on other emerging therapies for MS, including ocrelizumab and daclizumab HYP. Results will be shared on our research news as they become available.

More treatment options ultimately means that people with MS have a better chance of finding a therapy that fits their specific needs and lifestyle while reducing the frequency or severity of MS attacks or disease progression.

This is just a quick glimpse of some things that stood out for me so far – I will be sharing more, so stay tuned. Visit AAN’s website for brief summaries (abstracts) of the meeting.


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Bruce

Bruce Bebo, PhD

Bruce Bebo, PhD, is Executive Vice President, Research at the National MS Society, and was previously a research immunologist focusing on the influence of sex hormones on MS. He is a driven and passionate Society volunteer, successful fundraiser and advocate, fueled in part by the fact that his mother had MS.

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