MS Good News Report: The Latest Research through April 2020

Research news with a positive angle 


Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers meeting to be free and virtual this May

Considered one of the largest MS education conferences in North America, the annual CMSC event could've been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. However, joining with the multimedia platform, Neurology Live, it becomes a “virtual initiative” instead this May 26 through 29.

The event serves the active research and policy interests of MS healthcare professionals, social workers, pharmacists, and patient advocates. Findings shared through the CMSC directly influence the quality of care for hundreds of thousands of people living with MS.

Currently, many MS clinical trials and other research efforts have been put on hold for safety concerns related to the pandemic. This move to continue a critically important annual conversation about MS research and healthcare is a bright spot. Anyone concerned with MS disease management, comprehensive care, pharmaceutical therapies, cutting-edge findings, emerging care issues such as telemedicine, and other clinical advances can still participate in this important dialog to benefit people living with MS everywhere.1


MS researchers find and target new treatment devised to avoid current DMT side effects

A specific cell, known has the Cxcl10+ monocyte, has been found to be primarily responsible for demyelination damage, according to Dr. Alexander Mildner, a scientist at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine. His findings, published in Nature Immunology, suggest treatments could target these monocytes, rather than the usual autoreactive T and B cells central to MS treatment.

T- and B-cell treatments can have a negative impact on the “body’s immune memory,” said Milder in a press release. This can lead to infections in people using those treatments.

However, Mildner said "it is not only T and B cells that are involved in causing tissue damage in MS.”

His research shows a new antibody treatment, targeting the Cxcl10+ monocyte, results in its destruction.

Mildner is hopeful: "In the future, most forms of MS could be treated by specifically deactivating the Cxcl10+ monocytes instead of targeting the T or B cells of the immune system… This would protect the body's immune memory and prevent many side effects of current MS therapies."2


NIH-funded study finds compounds in edible plants offer benefits for people with MS

Ursolic acid is a natural compound found in a wide variety of edible plants. These include apples, lavender, peppermint, prunes, rosemary, and thyme.3

Recent research shows this compound, when introduced in laboratory mice with EAE, both reduced damage to their neurons caused by demyelination and helped to reverse it.4 EAE is the mouse “model” of demyelinating disease which mirrors the MS disease course in humans.5

Dr. Guang-Xian Zhang, co-senior author of the study, was quick to point out that ursolic acid is not a cure, but “if we see a similar response in people, it would represent a significant change in quality of life. And most significantly, it's a reversal, which we really haven't seen before with other agents at such a late stage of disease."4


So many MS drug updates!

April 2020 brought with it quite a bit of good news in the MS drug research department. Here are links to some of these stories:6-11

  • RRMS disease activity reduced by at least 85 percent in Phase 2 trial featuring new immunomodulator
  • A unique aspirin blend used to treat flushing in those with RRMS who take dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) received orphan drug designation
  • Preexisting drug used to prevent brain damage following hemorrhage could potentially relieve spasticity in people with MS
  • SPMS drug Mayzent shown to be safe and potentially effective for up to five years
  • Don’t delay treatment for MS: Early intervention in first two years post-diagnosis leads to lower disability outcomes
  • FDA—Plegridy and Avonex found safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding

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