MS Good News Report: The Latest Research through March 2020

Research news with a positive angle – formerly known as the MS Research Spotlight

Add another weapon to the MS treatment arsenal: ozanimod

The FDA recently approved the oral drug Zeposia® (ozanimod) for treating relapsing-remitting (RRMS), clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), and active secondary-progressive MS (SPMS). This once-daily therapy is applied in a slow titration, starting with a low dose and increasing it over time.

The drug works in ways similar to fingolimod (Gilenya®) and siponimod (Mayzent®), both known as S1P receptor modulators. These therapies are thought to prevent damaging lymphocytes from leaving the lymph nodes, which reduces their presence in the blood and tissues in the brain, which may reduce damage to the central nervous system (CNS).

However, unlike fingolimod or siponimod, ozanimod doesn’t require people who use it to undergo a genetic test or first-dose observation period.

The launch of Zeposia is delayed

MSAA chief medical officer Dr. Barry Hendin points out, however, that ozanimod’s manufacturer, Bristol Myers Squibb, is “delaying the launch of Zeposia due to the current COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to protect all those involved with the manufacture and marketing of this new medication. I support this decision and look forward to the launch of Zeposia once the coronavirus crisis has been resolved.”1


New competitor for Acthar Gel® could be approved by summer 2020

If you’ve ever used repository corticotropin injection to treat a severe or stubborn relapse, you’ve used the only product on the market: Acthar Gel®.

However, the manufacturer of a new version of an older treatment recently filed an FDA request to approve and reintroduce this product to the MS treatment market.

Cortrophin® Gel

Cortrophin® Gel was originally approved for use in 1954 but was last used in treatments in the 1980s. ANI Pharmaceuticals acquired the product from Merck four years ago; since then, it’s invested more than $100 million to revalidate it as a treatment for MS relapse.

ANI stated they will sell their new formulation at a substantial discount if approved by the FDA in order to keep drug costs down for Medicare and Medicaid. The FAD must review and decide upon ANI’s application by late July 2020.2


Small study shows big gains for sleep in people with MS

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) recently funded research that looked at different programs for addressing sleeplessness among people with MS.

Three models for treatment—cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBT-i), relaxation techniques, and a simple sleep promotion handout—were tested in a small sample to see which, if any, of these approaches could improve sleep.

While all groups showed “significant improvements” in insomnia, the CBT-I group enjoyed the greatest gains. Still, all approaches were found effective. The researchers suggest that for those who cannot access a trained CBT-I therapist, the other two models “can be used where education can be provided and then ‘stepped up’ to cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia if necessary.”3


This investigational therapy for MS is golden—literally

Clene Nanomedicine is developing a solution of gold nanoparticles, using a patented crystal structure, that encourages remyelination in people with MS. Of particular promise? The solution’s impact on chronic optic neuropathy related to MS.

The solution, known as CNM-Au8, helps the brain produce new myelin and bolsters cellular energy.

Research subjects consume the solution in a drink that tastes like water. These tiny gold crystals engage with cells in the production of new “free” cell energy. The particles can also help assist the cells in the process of removing residual toxic byproducts of MS damage.

What’s more, the solution appears to improve visual acuity in those with MS challenged with pre-existing optic neuropathy.

The research into CNM-Au8 remains in the early stages and much more research must take place before this new therapy can be approved and offered to people with MS.4

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