MS Research Spotlight: Vitamin D, Neuropsych Testing, MS-Friendly Dietary Supplements & More
MS Research Spotlight covers key research news from the last month.
To D, or not to D?
September 25, 2019 || Multiple Sclerosis News Today
This year’s European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) in Stockholm hosted an impassioned debate among clinicians on therapeutic applications of vitamin D.
This article points to a three-part series discussing the merits and drawbacks of making vitamin D supplementation a formal treatment approach for people with MS.
At the heart of the matter? Dosage specifications and a lack of research to confirm its standardized use in treating MS.1
Don’t stand on neuropsych testing without a larger real-world context
September 19, 2019 || Kessler Foundation via ScienceDaily
Many of those newly diagnosed with MS will undergo neuropsychological evaluations to identify areas of cognitive dysfunction. Researchers recently asked whether such tests were “ecologically valid.”
What does that mean? Essentially, it means that patient performance on these tests must fully represent, or parallel, their day-to-day functioning.
The researchers agreed that these intense assessments have predictive value for gauging behavior and function in real-world settings.
One of the study’s authors, Dr. Erica Weber PhD, also suggested that "everyday life is complex, and there is no single measure for predicting the performance of complex daily activities. This is especially true for MS."
Her research suggests that neuropsychological testing should be viewed within the context of other variables that don’t point to cognitive function (i.e. motor skills, fatigue, depression, patient personality, and measurable disability) to be more useful to clinicians.2
It’s that time of the year again: Vaccines and MS
September 19, 2019 || Neurology Today
The odds of developing MS were confirmed to be lower in patients with regular vaccinations in the five years leading up to their diagnoses when compared against subjects who did not have autoimmune diseases.
The scientists examined records of vaccine usage among more than 12,000 patients (for a variety of conditions, such as flu, HPV, chickenpox, and others) and found “no increased risk of MS following any vaccinations in comparison to multiple control groups,” writes Dr. Anne Langer-Gould, MD, PhD in her commentary on the research.3
Are certain dietary supplements useful for treating MS?
September 12, 2019 || MDPI
Thirteen different dietary supplements were determined to be beneficial when used to treat symptoms or prevent relapses in this comprehensive database search identifying 40 clinical trials focused on these substances.
- Folic acid
- Coenzyme Q10
- Lemon verbena
- Lipoic acid
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Omega-6 fatty acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
The substances were shown to potentially decrease inflammation and fatigue while increasing autoimmunity tolerance, which together can improve both life expectancy and quality of life.4
Controversies continue over stem cell therapy applications for MS
September 12, 2019 || Multiple Sclerosis News Today
Researchers at the ECTRIMS meeting in Stockholm debated the value of stem cell transplants, with some clinicians expressing reluctance to support a specific kind of stem cell therapy for those with highly active relapsing disease.
Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplants (aHSCT) is, to date, the only proven stem cell therapy for MS. It requires a bone marrow transplant that collects the patient’s own hematopoietic stem cells. These are held in reserve, while the patient undergoes a partial or complete “wipe out” of their own immune systems, then reintroduced to reprogram or grow an entirely new immune system.
The therapy may be even more successful if introduced at much earlier periods of MS disease activity.
Some doctors wish to make AHSCT more widely available, while others point to problems with safety following the immunosuppressive regimen that the procedure requires and the overall lack of reliable long-term follow-up data.
Another kind of transplant, of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), was also addressed. MSCs are thought to support tissue repair and provide a beneficial influence over the immune response. The MSCT protocol is still very new. Some research shows safety and efficacy to be promising, but other trials have yet to meet their primary endpoints in multiple studies.
Meanwhile, a third category, neural stem cells (NSCs) are also being researched for their applications in treating MS symptoms and disease course.5
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