Research news - June 2007
Way Ahead 2007;11(3):3
For details of the latest published research findings relevant to MS, read Quarterly MS Research Update
AAN meeting highlights
The American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting was held in Boston from 28 April - 5 May 2007. The conference brought together more than 10,000 neurologists and neuroscientists from across the world; the following is a selection of just some of the research presented during the course of the gathering.
Increased incidence of MS in femalesData recently published by a group in Canada suggested that the incidence of MS has increased in females compared to men over the last 60 years from approximately 2:1 to nearly 4:1. A group in the US, who assessed data from the NARCOMS registry, have confirmed this observation. They also found that the changes appeared to be more pronounced at younger ages of onset. It has been hypothesised that lifestyle changes in women, such as the use of oral contraceptives, may have played a role in the changing aetiology of MS. However, further research is needed to confirm this.
Two-year Campath dataPreliminary data has suggested that alemtuzumab (Campath) suppresses disease activity in RRMS. The CAMMS223 study compared two doses of Campath, 24mg or 12mg - given intravenously for 5 days at month 0, for 3 days at month 12 and for some patients again at month 24, against high dose beta-interferon-1a (44mcg sc three-times weekly) in treatment naïve patients. Interim analysis of the data at two-years showed that alemtuzumab-treated patients had greater than or equal to a 75% reduction in the risk for relapse compared to beta-interferon-1a treated patients. Trial safety data was also presented during the course of the meeting, including data on thyroid abnormalities seen in some Campath-treated patients. As six patients developed idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura whilst on treatment, one of whom died, the implementation of a risk management plan was also discussed.
BENEFIT early treatment dataAs part of the BENEFIT trial, a set of patients who had presented with a first clinical episode suggestive of MS were randomised to receive either beta interferon-1b or placebo for up to 24 months. Participants could then opt to participate in a five-year follow-up period. Analysis at three-years showed that immediate treatment with Betaferon reduced the risk of permanent neurological impairment by 40%, compared to delayed treatment. Also, those who received treatment following the first episode were 41% less likely to progress to clinically definite MS than those who received treatment at a later date. Schering intends to submit this data to the regulatory authorities. Back to top
The spring meeting of the Association of British Neurologists was held at Homerton College, Cambridge. As a general rule the MS Trust does not attend the ABN meetings, but this was an exception as working with the MS Society we had submitted a poster, which had been accepted. It was therefore with some excitement that we set out for Cambridge with a purple poster and a degree of curiosity!
The poster content was based on two research projects: NHS services for people with multiple sclerosis: a national survey. The Royal College of Physicians and MS Trust. Investigation of access to Disease Modifying Drugs for eligible MS patients in the UK. MS Society.
The conclusions are:
- These research projects have demonstrated that there are pockets of good practice but no uniform standards of MS services across the UK
- Significant work needs to be undertaken at SHA and PCT level to ensure effective commissioning and implementation of the NICE MS management guidelines
- People with MS cannot guarantee that they are referred at the appropriate time for drug therapy and may thus be acquiring MS damage that could be prevented
- Named individuals with responsibility for MS services at all levels in the NHS would be beneficial - information alone doesn't improve MS management
Despite very cramped conditions the poster generated a lot of interest and good discussions with many neurologists - maybe we will submit another!Back to top