MS Good News Report: The Latest Research through February 2020

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


New hopes placed on oral drug targeting progressive MS

Research results released for the phase 2B/3 study of the new MS drug, masitinib, show it can significantly delay disability progression in patients with primary progressive (PPMS) or nonactive secondary progressive MS (nSPMS).

Administered orally at 4.5mg/kg per day, masitinib showed delayed disease progression in 200 patients “as measured by the time to reach an EDSS score of 7.0 (corresponding to disability severe enough that the patient is restricted to a wheelchair),” according to an AB Science press release.

The study’s coordinating investigator, professor Patrick Vermersch, said, “The results from this study represent a scientific breakthrough… this is the first time that the novel strategy of targeting the innate immune system via mast cells and microglia has been able to significantly slow progression of clinical disability in progressive forms of MS. These data are extremely encouraging and may provide new hope for progressive MS patients.”1


Grow your own myelin? These MS scientists say it’s possible

Professors Siddharthan Chandran and Neil Carragher of Pheno Therapeutics are on the hunt or drugs to support new therapies they’ve developed to promote remyelination.

Their goal? To identify certain “novel” molecules that prompt the body to restore its own myelin.

Their strategy? To combine their unique genetic screening technologies with newly discovered medicinal compounds. They’ve received £5 million to achieve this. The research pathway ahead includes pre-clinical tests, followed by proof-of-concept clinical trials.

In a press release, professor Chandran said: “There are no interventions for people with later-stage multiple sclerosis, which is a devastating and debilitating condition. ...The opportunity for this company is to bring new and repurposed therapeutics to clinical trials and, by doing so, meet an urgent and currently unmet need.”2


Would you dress like a cyborg to fight MS?

These days, clothing styles can run to the avant-garde… which makes it a great time for those with MS to rock the exoskeleton look.

A new robotic suit is getting fitted with major research money in the UK to help improve physical fitness in people with mobility issues linked to MS.

Dr. Susan Kohlhaas, director of research at the MS Society, points out that “exercise is not a ‘nice to have’– it’s a proven way for people with MS to slow the build-up of disability, improve their symptoms and even boost their mood.”3


Ten-year study determines that negative progression patterns in MS aren’t “inevitable”

Many people, once diagnosed with MS, cannot help but fret over the future, presuming that things will only get worse.

However, a cognitive 10-year longitudinal Greek study of people with MS questions that assumption. Those researchers found that just 10 percent of patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) or relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) experienced an increase in “overall cognitive impairment.” This suggests that a “progressively evolving ‘dementia’” is not a guaranteed outcome for people with nonprogressive forms of MS.

(The study's population was small, so the same research should be repeated with a larger group to overcome this limitation.)4


New drug lights up myelin, aids MS diagnosis without MRI

Myeliviz is a new drug developed by researchers at Case Western Reserve University. When administered intravenously, it targets and binds to myelin. The person undergoing the injection then participates in a PET scan, a clinical procedure that can distinguish between normal and damaged myelin based on the patterns the drug enhances.

The National Institutes of Health have granted $1.7 million to the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis (Cleveland Clinic) to test Myeliviz in clinical trials of healthy volunteers.

Two key benefits to using Myeliviz include speedier pathways to diagnosis as well as a simpler pathway to disease observation after someone has been diagnosed, which could potentially replace the MRI protocol, though exposure to small amounts of radiation is a risk factor for using PET technology. More research is needed to prove its safety.5


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