MS Research Roundup: January 23, 2014
Myelin Repair in Baby Mice; U.S. MS Lifespan; Flu Vaccines vs. MS Drugs; Nefarious Stem Cell Clinics
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: email@example.com.
Myelin Repair in Mice
A growth factor treatment tested in a mouse model of premature infants may have the potential to repair brain damage in adults with MS. So said Regina Armstrong, Ph.D., commenting on a study published in Nature and reported on National Public Radio. Repeated doses of a naturally occurring substance called epidermal growth factor led to the complete repair of brain injuries in baby mice that didn't get enough oxygen after birth, the story noted. The story quoted authors Vittorio Gallo, Ph.D., and Joseph Scafidi, DO, of Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C. (NPR Shots) (Tip from Trove)
U.S. Life Expectancy for MS
As impossible as it seems, no study has looked at the relative life expectancy for people with MS in the United States—until now. Researchers who analyzed claims data from a U.S. commercial health insurance database reported that the roughly 30,000 people with MS they studied lived 6 years shorter than the 90,000 people without MS in the comparison group. The study was published online December 26, 2013, in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders . David Kaufman, Sc.D., an epidemiologist at Boston University, and his co-authors adjusted for age, gender, and geography using the U.S. population as the standard. The MS lifespan differences match those found in a recent study from British Columbia and line up with studies from Europe. (Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, Boston University Medical Center via EurekAlert!)
Flu Vaccine vs. Immunomodulatory Therapy
Just in time for flu season (in the Northern Hemisphere), a paper published online January 16 in Multiple Sclerosis Journal suggests that some people with MS may need a booster shot or "vaccine response analysis." Flu vaccines may be less effective in MS patients receiving immunomodulatory therapies other than interferon β, noted a news brief by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. An exploratory study from Norway found less protection from pandemic H1N1 (swine flu) vaccination in MS patients taking glatiramer acetate, natalizumab, and mitoxantrone, compared to those on interferon β and to controls. That was in 2009. Something similar happened with MS patients who received the seasonal influenza vaccine in 2010, as measured by serological response. The authors suggested a double dose of vaccine. (Multiple Sclerosis International Federation)
Big Money, Extraordinary Claims
There seems to be no shortage of people who will sell expensive unproven "miracle" treatments for incurable conditions, including MS. Scientists are testing the potential of stem cells (37 clinical trials involving various stem cell protocols in MS alone), but others are not waiting to see if or how those studies turn out, according to a heart-wrenching story in the online magazine Matter about one mother and her child with cerebral palsy who raised more than $80,000 for stem cell implants from The Wu Stem Cells Medical Center in Beijing. The center also advertises treatments for MS. (Matter, ClinicalTrials.gov, MedPage Today) (Tip from Virginia Hughes)
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