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MS research update - No benefit for MS symptoms from taking omega 3 fatty acids - 20 April 2012

Omega 3 is a very specific kind of fat which is found particularly in oily fish, including tuna, salmon and sardines, but also in pumpkin and flax seeds and walnuts. As the body cannot make its own omega 3, it has to be obtained in the diet. Omega 3 can be taken as supplements.

Omega 3 fats have been in the news frequently because there have been reports that they can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, may help with memory loss and dementia and also help improve behaviour in violent and antisocial teenagers. More recently, it has been suggested that omega 3 may not be of benefit in these conditions so there is still a lot of debate about whether they are beneficial or not.

This study looked at whether taking omega 3 supplements could help with MS symptoms and disease activity. 92 people with relapsing remitting MS in Norway took part in the trial. They were aged 18 to 55 years and had an EDSS score of 5 or less (so were able to walk 200m unaided and without a rest).

Half took omega 3 supplements every day and half took a placebo (dummy pill). After the first six months, the number of MS lesions seen on an MRI scan, were the same for both groups. The relapse rate was also the same.

After six months, both groups continued on either omega 3 or placebo as before but, in addition, everyone received the disease modifying treatment beta interferon for 18 months. At the end of the study, there was still no difference in the relapse rate between the two groups. The proportion of people with no progression in their disability was also the same. Levels of fatigue and quality of life were also reported to be the same.

The researchers concluded that taking omega 3 supplements did not reduce MS symptoms or disease activity, either when taken alone or in combination with beta interferon. However, it was clear that beta interferon was beneficial.

Torkildsen O, Wergeland S, Bakke S, et al.
ω-3 fatty acid treatment in multiple sclerosis (OFAMS study): A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Arch Neurol. 2012 Apr 16. [Epub ahead of print]

Research by topic areas...

Symptoms and symptom management

Ginsberg D, Gousse A, Keppenne V, et al.
Phase 3 efficacy and tolerability study of onabotulinumtoxinA for urinary incontinence from neurogenic detrusor overactivity.
J Urol. 2012 Apr 12. [Epub ahead of print]

Cornblath DR, Bienen EJ, Blight AR.
The safety profile of dalfampridine extended release in multiple sclerosis clinical trials.
Clin Ther. 2012 Apr 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Disease modifying treatments

Devonshire V, Havrdova E, Radue EW, et al.
Relapse and disability outcomes in patients with multiple sclerosis treated with fingolimod: subgroup analyses of the double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled FREEDOMS study.
Lancet Neurol. 2012 Apr 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Rudick RA.
Multiple sclerosis, natalizumab, and PML: helping patients decide.
Cleve Clin J Med. 2011 Nov;78 Suppl 2:S18-23.


Goodin DS, Reder AT, Ebers GC, et al.
Survival in MS: a randomized cohort study 21 years after the start of the pivotal IFNβ-1b trial.
Neurology. 2012 Apr 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Co-existing conditions

[No authors listed]
Multiple sclerosis: Risk of comorbid inflammatory diseases in MS might not be genetically determined.
Nat Rev Neurol. 2012 Apr 17. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2012.72. [Epub ahead of print]

Quality of life

Riazi A, Bradshaw SA, Playford ED.
Quality of life in the care home: a qualitative study of the perspectives of residents with multiple sclerosis.
Disabil Rehabil. 2012 Apr 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Paediatric MS

Peña JA, Ravelo ME, Rubio E, et al.
Pediatric multiple sclerosis in Venezuela.
Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2012 Apr;70(4):267-70.

Yeh EA.
Management of children with multiple sclerosis.
Paediatr Drugs. 2012 Jun 1;14(3):165-77.

Psychological aspects

[No authors listed]
Multiple sclerosis: Cognitive status declines on warmer days in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Nat Rev Neurol. 2012 Apr 17. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2012.61. [Epub ahead of print]


Humphries C.
Progressive multiple sclerosis: the treatment gap.
Nature. 2012 Apr 12;484(7393):S10.

Brody H.
Multiple sclerosis.
Nature. 2012 Apr 12;484(7393):S1.

Signori A, Baccino A, Sormani MP.
The quality of reports of randomized trials in multiple sclerosis: a review.
Mult Scler. 2012 Apr 11. [Epub ahead of print]

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