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MS Research Spotlight: UV vs. Vitamin D, Acthar Relief, Wireless Mobility, and More

MS Research Spotlight covers key research news from the last month.


Connecting the dots: sleep in people with MS

OCT 22, 2019 || Sleep

Researchers have long understood that a link exists between poor sleep and MS. Whether MS is the root cause of poor sleep, or vice versa, is still not known.

This first-ever literature review summarized findings on objective sleep variables in people with MS. They found some interesting connections between MS and sleep.

Especially noted were relationships between MS and both sleep breathing disorders and periodic limb movements of sleep.

Their focus on clinical variables, such as depression, cognitive disruption, fatigue, and quality of life, was especially interesting.

By performing this broad database search, the scientists hoped to connect the dots between sleep disorders and MS in ways that are more meaningful and which might inspire more inclusive research in the future.1


Mice see the light in research testing UV suppression of MS

OCT 21, 2019 || Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

We’ve all heard that natural vitamin D production is helpful in suppressing MS and have long believed it’s related to sunlight exposure.

New research shows that exposure to UV light to laboratory mice carrying EAE (the mouse model of MS) resulted in a full suppression of the disease even in mice incapable of generating vitamin D or lacking the receptors necessary to process it.

This suggests that it might not just be vitamin D, but UV light itself, that has a suppressive effect on demyelinating disease.

More research is needed to see how these findings might impact humans with MS.2


Science fiction for now, but for those with MS who cannot walk, a potential solution?

OCT 3, 2019 || MedPage Today

A recent proof-of-concept trial showed that new implant technology recorded and decoded brain signals in a 28-year-old man with paralysis in all his limbs.

Essentially, the theory behind the implantable device is that when someone imagines moving in some way, the signals involved in that complex motion may trigger implanted electrocorticograms from a wireless brain-computer system to record that activity and then actually perform it with the help of an exoskeleton.

This form of neuroprosthesis could improve the lives of people with MS by assisting them with operating wheelchairs or manipulate objects, but these goals are yet years away.

Still, this innovation brings hope to many young people who have lost the use of their limbs due to demyelination.3


Looking for flare relief? Acthar gel might be the ticket

OCT 3, 2019 || Multiple Sclerosis News Today

Many people with MS are unaware of an “old-school” medication that has been used to treat MS symptoms since 1978.

Acthar gel (ACTH) is a medication that enhances the body’s ability to produce its own steroids. For many with RRMS who experience frequent and recurring acute MS flareups, who do not respond to high-dose steroids, this medication may be the only way to find relief.

A recent clinical trial has also shown that not only does ACTH help shorten and alleviate flareups, but it also gave subjects “a sustained response to the medication that was still apparent six months after enrolling in the study.”4

Subjects also enjoyed significant improvements in symptoms, which is an important consideration relating to disability.4


Love your liver if you have MS

OCT 1, 2019 || Multiple Sclerosis

Data collected from people with MS born between 1930 and 1979 (the Norwegian Multiple Sclerosis Registry, population studies, and the Cancer Registry of Norway) found that cancer risk—especially of the liver—to be higher in MS patients than among the general population.

Other organs at higher risk for cancer in people with MS, based on this survey, include respiratory, urinary, and central nervous system organs.

This was a review of data over a long period, and it involved a large population. However, it was prospective, meaning it focused on a hypothesis that hasn’t yet been proven. Unto itself, it’s not hard evidence of any direct connection between MS and cancer. It simply suggests a higher increase in the risk, though researchers still can’t say for sure if having MS will lead to cancer.5

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Kosuke Tanioka, Anna Castelnovo, Naoko Tachibana, Silvia Miano, Chiara Zecca, Claudio Gobbi, Mauro Manconi. Framing multiple sclerosis under a polysomnographic perspective. Sleep. Published 22 October 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsz232.
  2. Irving, Amy A. Marling, Steven J. Seeman, Jeremy. Plum, Lori A. DeLuca Hector F. UV light suppression of EAE (a mouse model of multiple sclerosis) is independent of vitamin D and its receptor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. November 5, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1913294116.
  3. George, J. Wireless System Helps Tetraplegic Man 'Walk' — Brain signals from implanted electrodes drive motion. MedPage Today. October 3, 2019. https://www.medpagetoday.com/neurology/generalneurology/82558.
  4. Carvalho, Joanna. Acthar Gel Eases MS Flare-up Symptoms After Two Months of Treatment, Observational Study Shows. Multiple Sclerosis News Today. https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/news-posts/2019/10/01/mallinckrodt-announces-positive-top-line-findings-from-its-observational-registry-assessing-relapse-recovery-in-multiple-sclerosis-relapse-patients-treated-with-acthar-gel-repository-corticotropin-injection/.
  5. Grytten, N. et al. Risk of cancer among multiple sclerosis patients, siblings, and population controls: A prospective cohort study. Multiple Sclerosis Journal. October 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31573834

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