MS Research Roundup: September 22, 2014
#MSBoston2014 Special Edition; Collected Meeting News & Videos; Video Games & Cognitive Function; Measuring Neurodegeneration With Retinal Thinning
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.
#MSBoston2014: A Clinical Research Tsunami
Last week, the world’s largest MS meeting convened in Boston. Nearly 9,000 people from 90 countries attended the joint meeting of the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis and the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS) September 10-13. MSDF was on the scene, tweeting at @MSDForum and posting daily Twitter roundups on our blog. The MSDF editorial team was delighted to meet the statisticians, clinical researchers, mouse doctors, and patient advocates who stopped by the booth of our publisher, the nonprofit research organization Accelerated Cure Project. Stay tuned to MSDF for follow-up articles on the stories beyond the headlines and podcasts with leading researchers. Note that one meeting freebie can still be yours. For the month of September, register with SAGE to get access to over a dozen neuroscience and neurology journals.
#MSBoston2014: Collected Coverage
Here is a sample of news stories and videos from our press room colleagues. We like the MedPage Today caution posted with its meeting news stories: “Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.”
• Barts Multiple Sclerosis Research Blog (search on “ectrims”)
• Medscape: 2104 Joint ACTRIMS/ECTRIMS conference news (free registration required)
Video Game Improves Cognitive Function in MS Patients
Recently we reported on a story in which MS patients improved their balance and coordination using a fitness video game. It would appear that video games may have another use in MS rehabilitation. At the ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS meeting in Boston last week, investigators shared new data about improved cognitive function and thalamic connectivity in the brains of 24 MS patients who exercised their minds with the Nintendo game, “Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training,” almost daily for 8 weeks. In an interview with Family Practice News, the group’s leader, Laura De Giglio, M.D., Ph.D., of Sapienza University of Rome, said that they chose the game because of its ubiquity in Italy and its low cost. The study was based off previous data from the group that showed disruptions in the resting state of the thalamus in MS patients. The group did not test for maintenance of the improvement after the training course, Medscape reported, but previous data suggests that patients retain cognitive improvements after the end of these types of interventions. (Nintendo, Family Practice News, Medscape)
Retinal Thinning in MS Patients Mirrors Brain Atrophy
Another talk that caught our eye at the ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS meeting was a longitudinal study that suggested retinal thinning mirrored brain atrophy in 108 people with MS and could be used as a way to measure neurodegeneration. The research group measured retinal thinning every 6 months using optical coherence tomography (OCT) and compared it to annual MRI measures of brain atrophy. The predictive power of retinal thinning was especially useful in monitoring neurodegeneration in progressive MS but can be used for all forms of MS, said presenter Shiv Saidha, M.D., of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. OCT is easier to perform on patients than common measures of brain atrophy, and the MS field is seeking tools to measure neurodegeneration. “It is already being used as a marker of treatment response in therapeutic trials, but this study gives validation that this is an appropriate marker to measure," said Patrick Vermersch, M.D., of the Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Lille, France, who chaired the session, in an interview with Medscape. (Medscape)