MS Good News Report: The Latest Research Through July 2020
Research news with a positive angle.
Special update: concerned about MS and COVID-19?
While living with MS is already challenging enough, living with it during a pandemic can be even more frustrating. The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) recently launched its COVID-19 and MS Pathfinder tool to address these added frustrations.
The Pathfinder helps people with MS navigate their unique challenges with an easy-to-use tool offering direct resources to COVID-19 facts and relevant answers to these questions:
- How do I get what I need?
- How do I stay healthy?
- How do I stay safe?
- What if I need to stay at home?
Learn more at the MSAA site.1
Can video games help people with MS?
A recent pilot study testing tablet-based video games found the brain processing speed of players with MS improved substantially after participating.
Players participated in one of two different games (one was a digital treatment, the other a word game) for 25 minutes a day, five days weekly, over six weeks.
The word game used a digital grid to connect letters in order to spell as many words as possible. Meanwhile, the digital treatment engaged players in two simultaneous sensory and motor tasks, each testing the neural function of the frontal cortex.
Those playing the treatment game saw a clinically significant improvement in cognitive processing. Researchers also found that those who played the word game improved in the areas of verbal learning and memory.2
Music students launch single to fund MS research
When Jaisha Chudasama’s father, Vijoh, died from complications of MS, five of her teenaged friends literally banded together in the UK to help. The result? A new song, “Stronger Together,” composed, performed and recorded by the new band, The Key.3 The video is now available on YouTube.4
The band members, students at Caludon Castle School, came together as part of a final year music department project. The project required a charity to target, and they chose MS research to honor their friend’s beloved father.
The song continues to raise money and awareness for the MS Society. As of this printing, they’ve earned about half of their £2,500 goal—£1,252 (equal to a little more than $1600 USD).5
Canadian MS Society raises half a million, 50 cents a time, through local pub
Twelve years ago, fundraiser Barry Travnicek and pub owner George Karigan starting raising money for MS research through one-dollar raffle tickets sold at the Eastside Bar and Grill. They continued to run the charitable event every Friday night, splitting the take fifty-fifty between the raffle winner and the MS Society.
On the first Friday of the fundraiser, the two raised $185 for MS research.
On Friday July 3, 2020, those proceeds for charity pushed past the half-million mark.
Travnicek started the effort after his sister—who died in 2018—was diagnosed with MS 30 years ago. “Without MS, she would still be here,” he recently told The London Free Press in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He reports that the amount of money they’ve raised at the bar could fund two to three years’ worth of research as well as provide support for the many services the MS Society provides.6
New symptom tracker benefits MS Trust
“The morning of the last day at university...I didn’t feel ‘right.’ I’d been working so hard, the fact that the left side of my body had gone weak, numb, and wobbly sort of made sense to me. I was just stressed, right?” Jessie Ace writes at the MS Trust website. Ten days later, she was diagnosed with MS “and my life changed in an instant.”7
Ace was in school studying the arts to become an illustrator, but instead of deferring that dream, she sunk her skill set into the creation of the Enabled Warrior Symptom Tracker book. The book can keep track of appointments, capture questions to ask at your next doctor’s visit, contain your entire medical history, log your medications and treatments, and report your progress with exercise regimens. It even includes a menstrual tracker, a daily intentions worksheet, and a food diary.
Fifty percent of the profits from her book benefit the MS Trust in the UK, a charity which focuses on the research and care demands of people living with advanced MS.8
MS drug research updates
Here are some recent developments worth checking out:9-12
- July 20: FDA approves new form of baclofen for MS spasticity — release date, winter 2020
- July 16: Bafiertam, a new low-priced oral treatment for RRMS, becomes available in September
- July 7: Low-dose ketamine studied as a possible solution to MS-related fatigue
- July 6: Potential first-ever MS therapeutics researchers receive 1.2 million EUR (about 1.4 million USD) in funding in Germany
How well do people around you understand MS?