The ECTRIMS (European Committee for Treatment and Research In Multiple Sclerosis) annual conference is the largest annual international conference devoted to basic and clinical research in multiple sclerosis. The 2017 meeting took place in Paris from 25-28 October. The meeting was held jointly with ACTRIMS, the equivalent organisation from north America.

The following is a selection of information presented at the meeting. The first group looks at presentations about drugs for MS, the second looks at non drug topics. 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.

To keep up to date on all the latest news, views and research on multiple sclerosis, sign up for our free Open Door newsletter or our regular email alerts.

Disease modifying drugs compared

Australian research compared build up of symptoms in people taking a number of disease modifying drugs (DMDs).  Although the high efficacy drugs (Lemtrada, Tysabri, Gilenya) were better at reducing relapses, there were no great differences in the change of rate in disability accumulation over six years. However people who started a high efficacy DMD within a year if their diagnosis did show reduced build up of disability

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: MS Decisions - a guide to treatments for relapsing MS

DMDs and conversion to SPMS

A UK study found that beta interferon, Copaxone, Gilenya, Tysabri and Lemtrada all reduced the risk of conversion to secondary progressive MS compared to no treatment. Tysabri and Lemtrada were most effective

Source: Neurology Reviews
Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: MS Decisions - a guide to treatments for relapsing MS

Aubagio and pregnancy

A study of women who became pregnant while taking Aubagio (teriflunomide) found that the number of birth abnormalities was similar to that seen in the general populations. All the women stopped taking Aubagio when they found they were pregnant and three quarters had a procedure to clear the drug form their body more rapidly.

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Aubagio (teriflunomide)

Beta interferon improves longevity

Research in France and Canada found that being on one of the beta interferon drugs for more than three years reduced the risk of dying during an 18 year follow up study.

Source: Neurology Reviews

MS Trust link: Beta interferon

Biotin trial results

Biotin (MD1003) led to improvements in EDSS and measures of walking speed. The observed loss of brain volume was put down to remyelination causing less water and swelling and thus is not loss of brain tissue

Source: MD Magazine

MS Trust link: Biotin (MD1003)

Gilenya effective for children with MS

Gilenya (fingolimod) reduced the relapse rate in people with MS aged between 10 and 18 by 82% over two years compared to Avonex.

Source: Novartis press release
Source: MedPage Today

MS Trust link: Childhood MS

GNbAC1 may help repair myelin

A study of GNbAC1, an antibody against human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs), found that it seemed to promote remyelination, although the effect was only seen after 24 weeks

Source: MS News Today
Source: BioPharmaDive

MS Trust link: MS Research updates

Ibudilast promising in progressive MS

A study found that ibudilast, an asthma drug, slowed the rate of brain tissue loss in people with progressive forms of MS.

Source: MedPage Today
Source: MD Magazine

MS Trust link: Ibudilast

Laquinimod results disappointing

Results of a large scale trial showed laquinimod was no better at reducing disability progression that placebo. In previous trials, laquinimod hadn't shown much effect on relapse rate but disability progression had been good. The manufacturer, Teva, have decided not to pursue laquinimod as an MS drug.

Source: Medpage Today

MS Trust link: Laquinimod

Lemtrada effective as second line treatment

In two studies in which people taking Rebif switched to Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), the relapse rate dropped, most had no worsening of disability and around a quarter saw disability improve.  Most didn't need further treatment beyond the first two annual courses.

Source: Genzyme press release
Source: MD Magazine

MS Trust link: Lemtrada (alemtuzumab)

Mavenclad reduces disease activity

People with high disease activity taking Mavenclad (cladribine) were more likely to show no evidence of disease activity (NEDA) than people on placebo (43.7% v 9.0%). Also long-term safety data shows no significant higher risk of malignancies in people taking Mavenclad

Source: PR Newswire
Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Mavenclad (cladribine)

Ocrevus, symptom build up and vision

Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) reduced the risk of increasing disability - Progression Independent of Relapse Activity (PIRA) - by about a quarter compared to Rebif. Ocrevus was better than Rebif at improving low-contrast letter acuity (seeing letters against an indistinct background).

Source: Business Wire
Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Ocrevus (ocrelizumab)

Ozanimod reduces relapse rate

A trial found two dose sizes of ozanimod significantly reduced the relapse rate over two years compared to Avonex. Combined with results from second study, effects on disability progression weren't statistically significant

Source: Business Wire
Source: MS Magazine

MS Trust link: Drugs in development

Siponimod for SPMS

A trial of siponimod found that it caused a "dramatic drop" in new lesions seen on MRI in people with secondary progressive MS.

Source: MS News Today
Source: Neurology Reviews

MS Trust link: Siponimod

Tysabri for SPMS

Although the overall result of a trial of Tysabri (natalizumab) in secondary progressive MS was negative, it did have some effect on walking and arm function

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Tysabri (natalizumab)

Tysabri and pregnancy - when to stop treatment

German research has identified 30 weeks as the best time for a pregnant woman to stop taking Tysabri (natalizumab) to protect her from the risk of relapse without exposing the baby to risks from the drug

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Pregnancy

Cognitive reserve

A study suggests the value of building up and maintain cognitive reserves, particularly in people diagnosed as children, to better cope with the effect MS can have on social and work life.

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Brain health

Depression and disability

Canadian research found a link between depression and increased disability in women with MS. No link to disability was seen with anxiety or bipolar disorder

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Be kind to your mind

Diagnostic criteria revisions

The recommended revisions to the McDonald criteria for diagnosing MS include allowing evidence from lumbar punctures to be used in diagnosing people with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and allowing a wider range of lesions to be included in the MRI evidence. There was discussion of whether to include different criteria for diagnosing people with CIS or primary progressive MS.

Source: Neurology Reviews
Source: MedPage Today
Source: Neurology Reviews

MS Trust link: Diagnosis

Benign MS

A UK study followed people with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) for 30 years. By the end of the study, 91 were still involved in the research. Of these, 30 had not developed MS, 35 had relapsing remitting MS and 26 had secondary progressive MS. Of the people with relapsing remitting MS, all were still in work (or had reached retirement age) and most had low EDSS scores

Source: MedPage Today
Source: Neurology Reviews

MS Trust link: Types of MS

Relapses underreported

Two separate studies found that around half of people asked said they didn't always contact a doctor or MS nurse about a relapse they were having

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Relapse

Earliest years and effect on MS onset

A study found that people with MS born by Caesarean section experienced the onset of symptoms five years earlier than those born naturally. People who were bottle fed ("artificial lactation") saw symptoms two years earlier than those who were breastfed

Source: Neurology Advisor

MS Trust link: MS research updates

EBV and vitamin D

A study suggests there is a link between vitamin D levels and the reactivation of the Epstein Barr virus (EBV), though the effect was only seen in the first part of the year long trial. A different study found that higher levels of antibodies to EBV increased to risk of developing MS. Low levels of vitamin D were also a risk factor, though are unrelated to the EBV risk

Source: Neurology Advisor
Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
MS Trust link: Vitamin D

Smoking and vitamin D

An American study found that people with MS who stopped smoking and achieved and maintained adequate vitamin D levels had better health outcomes and lower medical costs

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Lifestyle

Lesions and progression

A study followed 164 people with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) for 15 years to see if the type of lesions with which they presented suggested the course of their MS. People with more spinal lesions were more likely to develop secondary progressive MS during the follow up period, particularly if a new lesions appeared following diagnosis with CIS

Source: MS News Today

MS Trust link: Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)