The 2016 meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) took place in Vancouver from 15 to 21 April.

These are links to news stories from coverage of the conference. Many of the articles cover drugs for relapsing remitting MS.  There are some stories related to progressive MS and more general issues towards the end of the list.

The link beneath each item will take you to the original story.

Please note that the MS Trust did not write the original items and does not endorse their content nor any claims made in them.

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Progression and disease modifying drugs

Australian research suggested that the course of MS is more varied than previously thought and that there is a case for continuing to use the more high powered disease modifying drugs in people whose MS has become progressive

Source: MPR

Disease modifying drugs and antidepressants

A study found that antidepressant use was about the same for people on all disease modifying drugs - between 40 and 45%.  This was also true of beta interferon, which has previously sometimes been associated with depression as a side effect.

Source: MPR

Five disease modifying drugs compared

A study looked at people taking one of five disease modifying drugs - beta interferon, Copaxone (glatiramer acetate), Aubagio (teriflunomide), Gilenya (fingolimod), Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate).  It found that Tecfidera led to the biggest reduction in relapse rates over the first year of treatment.

Source: MPR

Oral disease modifying drugs comparison study

A real world study found that people taking Aubagio (teriflunomide), Gilenya (fingolimod) or Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) had relapse rates that were in line with the clinical trials but had more side effects than would have been expected from the research.  Stomach upsets were a big factor in people stopping treatment

Source: MPR

Aubagio

In studies of Aubagio (teriflunomide), people taking the drug showed slower rates of brain atrophy than a placebo group over two years.  They were also less likely to show progression after they had a relapse.

Source: MPR
Source: MPR

Gilenya

An interim report of four year follow up data found Gilenya (fingolimod) was still effective and that no new side effects had become known.  Almost 70% of people in the trial had experienced side effects.  There were two cases of PML.

Source: MPR

Gilenya and Copaxone comparison

A review of medical records looked at people who had been treated for at least a year with Copaxone (glatiramer acetate).  Compared to those who stayed on Copaxone, the people who switched to Gilenya (fingolimod) had 13.8% fewer relapses.  Another group that had switched from Copaxone to beta interferon had 4.5% fewer relapses.

Source: MPR

Tecfidera

Six year follow up data showed that half of people taking Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) had had no relapses and showed no signs of progression.  

Another two year study found Tecfidera reduced the risk of progression in people within a year of their diagnosis with MS who had not previously taken a disease modifying drug

Source: Biogen press release
Source: Medical News Today

Tecfidera and beta interferon/Copaxone comparison

MS affects work productivity of people with MS in employment.  Those who took Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) were less affected than people on beta interferon/Copaxone (glatiramer acetate).  People on Tecfidera also had a lower level of problems with day to day daily activities.

Source: MPR

MS Trust link: At work with MS

Switching to Tysabri

A study looked at the effect of switching to Tysabri (natalizumab) for people who had previously taken beta interferon, Copaxone (glatiramer acetate), Gilenya (fingolimod) or no disease modifying drug.  Regardless of previous treatment, relapse rates were lower on Tysabri.

Source: MPR

Rituximab or Gilenya when switching from Tysabri

A study found that people who switched from Tysabri (natalizumab) to rituximab had fewer relapses in the following 18 months than people who had switched to Gilenya (fingolimod).

Source: Science Daily
Source: MS News Today

Lemtrada

Ten year follow up data from the pivotal trials of Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) showed that 76% of participants had shown no progression, 78% had stable or improved EDSS scores compared to baseline and the relapse rate was very low.

People who had been on the beta interferon arm of studies showed a reduction in brain atrophy once they switched to Lemtrada. 

In another trial Lemtrada increased thickness of nerves in the retina

Source: Medical News Today
Source: Genzyme press release

Ocrelizumab for relapsing remitting MS

Two comparison studies with beta interferon found that after 96 weeks, almost half of the people with relapsing remitting MS taking ocrelizumab had no evidence of disease activity (NEDA) whilst the level in the interferon group was a little over a quarter. 

Source: Neurology Advisor
Source: MedPage Today

Stem cell therapy safety study

Phase I results from a small stem cell trial in New York involving 20 people. The treatment involved three three-monthly injections of mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow injected into the spine.  Thirteen people completed the treatment, which was primarily looking at safety.  Some people saw signs of symptoms improving.

Source: Tisch MS Center press release
Source: Neurology Advisor

MS Trust link: Stem cell therapy

Cladribine

A follow up study found that cladribine was still effective four years after starting treatment

Source: MPR

Daclizumab and cognition

People taking daclizumab or beta interferon took the Symbol Digit Modalities Test of cognitive function every 24 weeks.  At weeks 96 and 144, the daclizumab group showed greater improvements.  The group also had fewer people whose scores got worse at weeks 24, 72, and 96

Source: Biogen press release

MS Trust link: Cognition and cognitive symptoms

Biotin

Results of two trials showed biotin (MD1003) reversed progression (based on EDSS or timed walk test) in about one in eight people with progressive MS.  People in the placebo arm that switched to active treatment saw an improvement as well.  In the second trial - of people with optic neuritis - people on biotin improved "slightly more" than the placebo group

Source: Business Wire

Clemastine fumarate

A study found that an over the counter antihistamine caused a "modest improvement" in nerve transmission speeds in people with MS and optic neuritis.  This suggests that it may be repairing damaged nerves to some degree

Source: MedPage Today

Lipoic acid for secondary progressive MS

A study found that lipoic acid reduced the rate of brain atrophy and showed a trend towards improvements in walking speed and fewer falls in people with secondary progressive MS.

Source: MPR

Regrowing myelin in secondary progressive MS

NDC-1308 is a potential treatment that encourages the regrowth of myelin.  It has been studied in people with secondary progressive MS.

Source: Neurology Advisor

Cognition training

A study looked at a "computer-based cognitive remediation training program" - a collection of games and tasks.  People who trained for an hour a day, five days a week over twelve weeks did better on psychological tests than a group who had been using a placebo approach - ordinary computer games.

Source: Science Daily
Source: Neurology Advisor

MS Trust link: Cognition and cognitive symptoms

Early life risk factors for MS

A study suggested that illnesses a mother might have had during pregnancy or a father working with pesticides were associated with a higher risk of the child having MS.  Children born by caesarean section had a lowered risk of MS

Source: Neurology Advisor

MS Trust link: Risk of developing MS

Smoking

A study found that stopping smoking slowed the rate of brain atrophy in people with MS compared to a group who continue to smoke

Source: Neurology Advisor

MS Trust link: Smoking

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