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State of the Research: Multiple Sclerosis

So much remains to be understood about the complex and often times unpredictable disease of multiple sclerosis (MS). Even so, researchers continually work to fill in the gaps of understanding when it comes to MS – making progress that improves the lives of those with MS each year.

Through a yearly update, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America stays current with all the top research conducted throughout the previous year with this disease. The 2015 research update was recently released, offering a comprehensive overview of the latest findings in FDA-approved therapies, as well as some experimental treatments on the horizon.

This update pointed out that the latest MS medications to join the ranks of more established treatments include:

  • A new formulation of Copaxone, now provided three times weekly instead of daily
  • A new type of interferon, Plegridy, given once every two weeks
  • A yearly infusion of Lemtrada
  • Tecfidera is an oral medication taken twice a day

In addition, the update provided insights into the upcoming therapies showing potential that continue to be investigated, including:

  • Anti-LINGO

Since the protein LINGO-1 in the central nervous system plays a role in stopping myelination, it stands to reason that a medication that stops this protein would actually have a positive effect on remyelination. Animal studies have been promising. Consequently, human trials have begun – in which MS patients showed improved optic nerve recovery. Even larger human trials are underway, combining this medication with Avonex.

  • Erythropoietin

The kidney-produced hormone called erythropoietin encourages red blood cell formation. Research based on high doses of it indicates improvement in motor function in MS patients, as well as cognitive improvements.

  • Idebenone

The medication idebenone originally was developed for Alzheimer’s applications. Recently, MS researchers have taken a look to see if its antioxidant properties could be beneficial in the oxidative stress common to MS. Clinical trials are underway, but no results are yet available.

  • MIS416

This medication is a vaccine which activates the innate immune system. Prior research examined it for cancer applications but now a human trial is underway to see if it could aid in MS. As with idebenone, results are not yet available.

  • Peptides

A small study has examined the use of transdermal myelin peptides (MBP 85-99, PLP 139-151, and MOG) and early results show delays in relapse rates in the patients, compared to placebo.

It’s heartening to know that these medications could be in the pipeline for eventual FDA approval, giving us more tools to offer MS patients to manage this disease.


BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy

Krieger S. MS Research Update. April 2015.


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