MS Good News Report: The Latest Research through September 2020

Research news with a positive angle.


If you’re taking vitamin D, then kudos to you!

Two-thirds of people with MS assessed for vitamin D levels were found to have sufficient amounts of the vitamin in their bodies, “likely due to supplementation,” according to details from a recent study.1 In the retrospective analysis, records from people with MS registered with the Cleveland Clinic between June 2015 and November 2019 were examined, with special attention paid to reported vitamin D3 levels.

Vitamin D and walking speed scores

Not only did the researchers find adequate amounts of vitamin D in 62.3 percent of patients who used supplements, but the 37.7 percent who didn’t supplement and who had inadequate D3 levels experienced significantly longer walking speed test scores.

If you aren’t currently supplementing with vitamin D, please consult your MS specialist to determine your current levels and to receive proper advice on dosage.


Thyroid “events” in people with MS don’t increase risks for relapse

Sometimes people with MS may also experience a separate thyroid-related condition. New research following patients for six years finds that “MRI outcomes were similar in patients with or without thyroid adverse events,” said study author Dr. Colin Dayan in a presentation before the ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS virtual joint meeting in September.2,3

Dayan further reported that 82 percent of MS patients with thyroid events had stable or improved EDSS (expanded disability status scale). This, in comparison to 79 percent of patients who didn’t have thyroid events. Also, 70 percent of patients reporting thyroid events experienced no new disease activity compared to 64 percent of their peers who didn’t have thyroid disease.

MS drugs and thyroid function

Key to the discussion: while the MS drug alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) may be linked with problematic thyroid function, it didn’t seem to pose any impact on MS outcomes over the study’s six-year period. People with MS using alemtuzumab also experienced slower brain atrophy when compared to their MS peers using interferon treatments instead.4


New research shows pregnancy can delay MS symptom onset by more than three years

A study analyzing more than 2500 women with MS found that those with previous pregnancies experienced their first symptoms three years later, on average, than those women who’d never been pregnant.5

Some interesting observations from the study:

  • Pregnancy tends to “dampen” the immune response as a way to protect the developing baby.
  • Certain hormones thought to be protective of the CNS (central nervous system) are released during pregnancy.
  • MS frequently occurs in women of childbearing age and may inspire special considerations for those with MS who wish to plan for a family.

“Promising new avenue” of MS treatments receives funding by the NMSS

Researchers at the University of California-Riverside (UCR) received a $373,000 project grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) to look into compounds that help speed up nerve impulses.6

Dr. Seema Tiwari-Woodruff and her team recently discovered that certain compounds may help the brain remyelinate — or, add new myelin coating to damaged nerves. This remyelination naturally improves the speed and efficiency of central nervous system activity. Remyelination, unfortunately, isn’t currently a functional focus for the DMTs currently approved to treat MS.

Chloroindazome (lndCl)Keep your eyes peeled for something known as chloroindazome (lndCl). This substance may spur active remyelination, as it stimulates a specific estrogen receptor in the body that may prompt the healthy rebuilding of myelin.Estrogens, according to Tiwari-Woodruff, both protect the CNS and modulate the immune system. However, estrogen treatments are linked to certain adverse side effects. The UCR team hopes to use the research grant to identify other substances that work like lndCl which could provide the same benefits without the unwanted side effects.MS drug research updates, in briefLots of news this month regarding disease-modifying therapies:7-11September 1: After three years, Zeposia (ozanimod) shown to prevent relapses and disability progression in people RRMSSeptember 2: New generic form of Tecfidera, Mylan, now availableSeptember 3:Fingolimod (Gilenya) reduces relapse rates in RRMSSeptember 14: Masitinib, a new drug targeting the immune system, shown to slow disability progression in people with PPMSSeptember 18: A lower dose of rituximab (Rituxan) found safer and just as effective as previous dose

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