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Study Shows MS Patients at Most Risk for Drug-Linked Brain Illness

Posted 16 May 2012 by

WEDNESDAY, May 16 – Drug company researchers say they've determined which multiple sclerosis patients are most vulnerable to developing a rare brain infection while taking a powerful drug called Tysabri (natalizumab). Even the multiple sclerosis patients at highest risk of developing the brain infection face low odds of getting it while on Tysabri, but the infection can be deadly. "Now we can identify which risk group each patient is in. This will help doctors and patients make better decisions," said Dr. Gary Bloomgren, lead author of a study released Wednesday and vice president of drug safety at Biogen Idec, which makes the drug. About 100,000 patients have taken Tysabri at least once. The drug, which is used mainly to delay the progression of multiple sclerosis, has been on the market since 2006. It originally went on the market in 2005 but was removed due to medical problems that ... Read more

Related support groups: Multiple Sclerosis, Tysabri, Natalizumab

FDA Medwatch Alert: Gilenya (fingolimod): Drug Safety Communication - Safety Review of a Reported Death After the First Dose

Posted 15 May 2012 by

[UPDATED 05/14/2012] FDA has completed its evaluation of a report of a patient who died after the first dose of multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya (fingolimod). The agency also has evaluated additional clinical trial and postmarket data for Gilenya, including reports of patients who died of cardiovascular events or unknown causes. FDA could not definitively conclude that Gilenya was related to any of the deaths. However, based on its reevaluation of the data, FDA remains concerned about the cardiovascular effects of Gilenya after the first dose. Data show that, although the maximum heart rate lowering effect of Gilenya usually occurs within 6 hours of the first dose, the maximum effect may occur as late as 20 hours after the first dose in some patients. For this reason, Gilenya is now contraindicated (FDA advises against its use) in patients with certain pre-existing or recent (within last ... Read more

Related support groups: Multiple Sclerosis, Gilenya, Fingolimod

FDA Issues Multiple Sclerosis Drug Alert

Posted 14 May 2012 by

MONDAY, May 14 – The multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya (fingolimod) should not be given to patients with certain pre-existing or recent heart conditions or stroke, or those taking certain medications to correct heart rhythm problems, says a U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety announcement issued Monday. The warning follows the FDA's evaluation of a report of a patient who died within 24 hours after receiving the first dose of Gilenya. The agency also reviewed additional clinical trial and post-approval data for the drug, including reports of patients who died of cardiovascular or unknown causes. While it couldn't definitively conclude that Gilenya was related to any of the deaths, the FDA said it has concerns about the cardiovascular effects of the drug after the first dose. The data analysis showed that even though the maximum heart rate-lowering effect of the drug usually occurs ... Read more

Related support groups: Multiple Sclerosis, Gilenya, Fingolimod

Pot Might Help Ease Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Posted 14 May 2012 by

MONDAY, May 14 – Smoking pot can help relieve muscle tightness, called spasticity, and pain in people with multiple sclerosis, a new, small study suggests. "Spasticity is a major problem [in multiple sclerosis]," explained study author Dr. Jody Corey-Bloom, director of the University of California, San Diego Multiple Sclerosis Center. "People get very tight and it hurts, it feels like charley horses." Medicines are available, but they don't help everyone, she added. In the study, Corey-Bloom and her colleagues looked at 30 multiple sclerosis patients with muscle tightness who weren't helped by conventional medicines, and discovered they found relief by smoking pot. "Smoking pot reduces the spasticity by about a third compared to patients on [an inactive] placebo," she said. The study is published in the May 14 issue of the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). More than 400,000 ... Read more

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FDA Issues Warning on Controversial MS Treatment

Posted 10 May 2012 by

THURSDAY, May 10 – Doctors and patients need to be aware of the potential risk of injuries and death associated with an experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis called liberation therapy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in an alert issued Thursday. Liberation therapy is used to treat chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) – a narrowing of veins in the neck and chest – believed by some to cause multiple sclerosis (MS) or worsen the disease. They think it does so by impairing blood drainage from the brain and upper spinal cord. The controversial procedure uses balloon angioplasty devices or stents to widen narrowed veins in the chest and neck. But the FDA has not approved this treatment for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, and the agency said it has learned of deaths, strokes, damage to the treated vein, blood clots, cranial nerve damage, ... Read more

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Early Use of MS Drug May Cut Likelihood of Progression

Posted 19 Apr 2012 by

THURSDAY, April 19 – A new three-year study finds that a multiple sclerosis drug is more likely to prevent patients from progressing to a definite form of MS if it's given early in patients who appear to be ill. The drug, a form of interferon called "interferon beta-1a," is not available in the United States. It is, however, available in countries in the European Union, Canada and elsewhere. "While we've known it's beneficial to start MS drugs as soon as possible, this is the first trial to show a benefit of early injections of interferon beta-1a treatment at three years," Dr. Mark Freedman, of the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology. The study tracked 517 people who had brain lesions and symptoms – such as tingling, numbness or balance problems – that suggested they might have multiple sclerosis. One-third of the ... Read more

Related support groups: Multiple Sclerosis, Avonex, Rebif, Interferon Beta-1A, Avonex Prefilled Syringe

Experimental Pill for Multiple Sclerosis Shows Promise

Posted 16 Apr 2012 by

MONDAY, April 16 – An experimental pill reduced the number of lesions in the brains of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), researchers report. The drug, which currently goes by the name ONO-4641, "actually caused a reduction in relapses, which is somewhat unusual in a study this small and is quite encouraging," said lead researcher Dr. Timothy Vollmer, a professor of neurology and medical director of the Rocky Mountain MS Center, located at the University of Colorado, in Denver. The medication is also "more selective than other drugs in its class and hopefully that will provide a better safety profile long-term," Vollmer said. He added that the aim of the therapy is to prevent MS-linked disability and prevent brain damage. "We are shifting our therapeutic goals. We are no longer interested in just slowing the disease, we are actually interested in putting patients into what we call a ... Read more

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Fish Oil Supplements Won't Help in Multiple Sclerosis: Study

Posted 16 Apr 2012 by

MONDAY, April 16 – Omega-3 fatty acid supplements don't appear to have any benefit on multiple sclerosis (MS), according a study by Norwegian researchers. Multiple sclerosis affects about 2.5 million people worldwide. Some prior research has indicated that omega-3 fatty acid supplements might have anti-inflammatory effects that could benefit those with the disease, according to background information in the study. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, and in fish oil supplements. "Our study provides evidence that omega-3 supplementation has no beneficial effect on MS, neither given alone nor in combination with interferon treatment," said lead researcher Dr. Oivind Torkildsen, from Haukeland University Hospital, in Bergen. Interferon is a standard drug given to MS patients. "Our data do not suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was harmful or that ... Read more

Related support groups: Multiple Sclerosis, Lovaza, Fish Oil, Omacor, MaxEPA, Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Animi-3, Marine Lipid Concentrate, Sea-Omega 70, TheraTears Nutrition, Proepa, TherOmega, Sea-Omega 30, Super-EPA, Mi-Omega, Omega-500, Divista, EPA Fish Oil, Sea-Omega

Diet, Smoking May Affect MS Progression

Posted 30 Mar 2012 by

FRIDAY, March 30 – Dietary factors and cigarette smoking may alter the course of disease in patients with a milder form of multiple sclerosis, a new study finds. Out of nearly 900 patients with what is called "relapsing onset" multiple sclerosis (MS), those who regularly consumed alcohol, caffeine and fish were less likely to progress to the point that they needed help walking, which is considered a milestone in the course of the disease. In contrast, cigarette smoking was associated with an increased risk of becoming disabled. One explanation is that dietary factors might have a direct protective effect on MS patients, said Dr. Marie D'hooghe, a clinical neurologist in Belgium and lead author of the study. Caffeine, fish and alcohol at low to moderate levels are all known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and focal, or localized, inflammation in the brain and spinal cord is an ... Read more

Related support groups: Multiple Sclerosis, Smoking

Experimental Pill May Ease Multiple Sclerosis Disability

Posted 14 Mar 2012 by

WEDNESDAY, March 14 – Yet another orally taken medication shows some promise in preventing relapse and disability for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, a new report suggests. In the new study, laquinimod reduced the annual relapse rate by 23 percent, and disability progression by 36 percent. "We found that laquinimod, as compared with placebo, reduced the rate of relapse and slowed the progression of disability in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis," the European researchers, led by Dr. Giancarlo Comi of the Institute of Experimental Neurology in Milan, wrote. The study, which was funded by the drug's manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, was published in the March 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that damages the outside of nerve fibers in the central nervous system, according to the ... Read more

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Pregnancy May Protect Against MS, Study Says

Posted 7 Mar 2012 by

WEDNESDAY, March 7 – New research suggests that pregnancy may decrease women's risk of developing multiple sclerosis. "Even one pregnancy was associated with nearly a halving of risk [of developing MS symptoms]," said study author Anne-Louise Ponsonby, head of the environmental and genetic epidemiology and research group at Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. The team also found that women who were pregnant two or more times had only one-quarter of the risk of developing MS symptoms as those who were never pregnant. The study was published online March 7 in the journal Neurology. Previous research has found that pregnancy in women who already have MS – an autoimmune disorder – is linked with lower rates of relapse. Ponsonby's team found an association between pregnancy and a lower risk of MS symptoms, not a direct cause-and-effect link. They say, however, ... Read more

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Autoinjector Version of MS Drug Approved

Posted 28 Feb 2012 by

TUESDAY, Feb. 28 – A pen-delivery version of the multiple sclerosis drug Avonex has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, drug manufacturer Biogen Idec said Tuesday. The self-administering Avonex autoinjector pen is designed to lessen pain and anxiety associated with MS, the Associated Press reported. The drug was first approved in 1996. On Tuesday, the FDA also approved new dosing guidelines to help cut down on flu-like symptoms, a common adverse reaction to the drug, the AP said. Biogen Idec is based in Weston, Mass. More information Medline Plus has more about multiple sclerosis. Read more

Related support groups: Multiple Sclerosis, Avonex, Rebif, Interferon Beta-1A, Avonex Prefilled Syringe

Multiple Sclerosis May Cause Changes in Thalamus: Study

Posted 5 Jan 2012 by

FRIDAY, Dec. 30 – New research suggests that in addition to the disabling lesions it's known to cause, multiple sclerosis also damages the part of the brain that affects thinking skills, motor function and the senses. "The thalamus is a central area that relates to the rest of the brain and acts as the 'post office,'" study co-author Khader Hasan, an associate professor at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said in a university news release. "It also is an area that has the least amount of damage from lesions in the brain, but we see volume loss, so it appears other brain damage related to the disease is also occurring." Hasan and colleagues published their observations in a recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. The study authors noted that aging alone can bring about changes in the size of the thalamus region, resulting in some shrinkage after age 70. ... Read more

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MS May Take a Different Pathway Than Previously Thought

Posted 7 Dec 2011 by

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 – Multiple sclerosis may begin in the outer layer of the brain and work its way into the deep interior, according to a new study that upends long-held beliefs about the nervous system disease. The new findings, which could spur changes in the way MS is diagnosed and treated, appear to solidify a theory that's emerged in recent years. This new premise suggests that gray matter, the outer covering of the brain called the cortex, and the fluid that surrounds and cushions it, is where MS originates, not in the bulky white matter that composes most of the brain's core. It's an "outside-in" process in other words, said study co-author Dr. Claudia Lucchinetti, a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "We already recognized before this study that the cortex – the superficial layer where cells control memory, attention, and other key pathways in the ... Read more

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New Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Promising in Early Trial

Posted 1 Nov 2011 by

TUESDAY, Nov. 1 – Multiple sclerosis patients may eventually benefit from a novel treatment that takes aim at the abnormal behavior of a specific type of immune cell, preliminary research suggests. The errant behavior of the cells in question – known as "B cells" – is viewed as key to the development of this chronic and disabling nervous system disease, commonly called MS. The new therapy's potential is only in the early stages of exploration, cautions an international study team comprised of researchers from the United States, Canada, Switzerland and the Netherlands, in the report published in the Nov. 1 online edition of The Lancet. But initial indications suggest that the new antibody drug, called ocrelizumab, successfully targets these renegade cells with hopeful results: a significant reduction in disease-related inflammatory brain lesions. "Our findings show that ocrelizumab ... Read more

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