MS Research Roundup: July 17, 2014
Flu Vaccines and MS Drugs; Crowd-Sourced Wheelchair App; Email News Delivery
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis (MS) researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MS Drugs and Vaccines
It’s a conundrum. Infections can trigger relapses in MS, but therapies to reduce relapses also alter the immune response, possibly affecting how well vaccines work to prevent infections. A new review of 13 studies investigating how MS drugs affect flu vaccine efficacy finds scant evidence for most of the drugs. Untreated patients or patients on interferon β (-1a and -1b) seem capable of a normal vaccine response. Likewise, patients treated with fingolimod, teriflunomide, and alemtuzumab may be able to mount a proper response to vaccination. Two small studies with natalizumab yielded conflicting results, one showing less immunity and the other no difference. Patients taking mitoxantrone and glatiramer acetate appear to have a poor response to the vaccine against influenza. This may suggest that a second dose of vaccine may be necessary, but further studies are needed to assess the real clinical benefit of this option. For other drugs, such as rituximab or daclizumab, there is not enough evidence in MS, but results from other conditions suggest a possible lower response to vaccination, which needs to be tested in the MS setting. “We recommend [a flu shot] to all our MSers each year,” writes Gavin Giovannoni, MBBCh, Ph.D. “Even partial immunity to the new circulating flu strains is better than no immunity. There have been several studies showing that the inactivated flu vaccine is safe in MSers and is not associated with triggering relapses or MRI activity." (Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, Multiple Sclerosis Research blog)
On a Roll
At age 25, Jason DaSilva was traveling the world as a documentary filmmaker. Then he was diagnosed with MS, quickly moving from a cane to a walker to a motorized scooter. When I Walk, a film chronicling his life with MS, premiered on U.S. television on June 23 and is freely available online until July 23 (U.S. only). In one date scene, the woman who becomes his wife gets a scooter and they race around the Guggenheim Museum. In another project addressing the not-so-fun aspects of being disabled, DaSilva developed a crowd-sourced tool called AXS Map for people to review the wheelchair accessibility of businesses and places in their neighborhoods in North America. Earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, healthcare settings were called some of the worst offenders. Visiting New York City this summer? DaSilva suggests a mapping day with AXS Map. (NPR, When I Walk)
If you’re one of our weekly email MSDF newsletter subscribers (now more than 750 and rising), we know you usually find time in your busy schedule to click on our latest articles, data visualizations, drug pipeline updates, podcasts, blogs, or funding opportunities. A recent ode to topical newsletters you actually want to see in your inbox made us think of other newsletters we follow about MS research and related topics:
• Research News from the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (Sign up on this page)
• Multiple Sclerosis Research blog (Sign up in the left-hand column to follow individual posts by email or an RSS feed)
• Gray Matters, a weekly roundup curated by science writer Virginia Hughes, who covers microglia and more.
Let us know about other newsletters of interest to MS researchers in the comments section below. (Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, Multiple Sclerosis Research blog, NMSS, New York Times, Virginia Hughes).
Gavin Giovannoni, MBBCh, Ph.D., is a member of the MSDF Scientific Advisory Board.