MS Research Roundup: February 7, 2014
Latest Myelin-Repair Candidate; Crowdsourcing Clinical Trials; Fingolimod Pregnancy Caution; Japan Neuroimmunology Meeting News
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speedy Trial After Screen
At least two groups are trying to speed up the search for drugs to repair or protect the myelin sheathing of neurons damaged in multiple sclerosis (MS) by screening hundreds or thousands of approved drugs. MSDF reported on one monumental effort that yielded an old Parkinson's drug, among others in a cluster that worked through a similar molecular mechanism in culture dishes and mice. The lead candidate from another lab is already in clinical testing, before the detailed molecular and animal results have been published. Clemastine, the active ingredient in the over-the-counter allergy drug Tavist, was identified by a novel high-throughput technique in the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) lab of Jonah Chan, Ph.D. The phase 2 randomized double-blind controlled crossover trial in people with relapsing-remitting MS is led by his UCSF colleague Ari Green, M.D. In the primary outcome, the researchers want to learn whether the drug restores lost myelin in the optic nerve, as measured indirectly by an increase in the speed of nerve impulses traveling from the eye to the back of the visual cortex. (MedPage Today, ClinicalTrials.gov)
The Wisdom of the Crowd
Two years ago, MS was the first condition to see a crowdsourced investigational new drug application approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Look for more open innovation, crowdsourced input, and patient centeredness, predicts FasterCures on its top 10 trends list for 2014. It's all good, blogs Tomasz Sablinski, founder and CEO of Transparency Life Sciences, which designed the study of lisinopril, a common blood pressure drug, with input from patients and researchers. Other pioneering companies using the Internet to leverage ideas from patients, their families, and other researchers to help design and conduct studies include PatientsLikeMe, which recently set up a platform specifically to entice researchers interested in accessing its patient network to test health outcomes measures. (IEEE Pulse, FasterCures)
Fingolimod Pregnancy Caution Renewed
Researchers report higher-than-normal rates of fetal toxicity associated with accidental pregnancy exposure to fingolimod (Gilenya, Novartis). The study, published online January 24 in Neurology, analyzed the unplanned pregnancies that occurred in the treatment arms of the fingolimod clinical development program. Modulation of the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor is known to affect vascular formation during embryogenesis, and animal studies suggested a risk of fetal toxicity. The clinical trials required a negative pregnancy test at enrollment and reliable contraception throughout treatment. Despite these measures, 66 pregnancies had in utero exposure to fingolimod. "The number of patients becoming pregnant during fingolimod therapy remains small and does not permit firm conclusions to be drawn about fetal safety of fingolimod in humans," conclude researchers from Novartis Pharma and their co-authors. "Given the known risks of teratogenicity in animals and the present data, women of childbearing potential should use effective contraception during fingolimod therapy and for 2 months after discontinuation." (Multiple Sclerosis International Federation)
Everyone who missed the two-day Multiple Sclerosis Workshop in Fukuoka last August can catch up for free. The December 2013 special issue of Clinical and Experimental Neuroimmunology features a meeting proceedings, abstracts, a case report, and reviews by conference speakers, and a short overview of the state of idiopathic demyelinating disease of the central nervous system in Japan. The meeting at Kyushu University School of Medicine featured an interdisciplinary exchange between basic scientists and clinicians on the latest progress in multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica research among neuroimmunologists in Japan and overseas. (Wiley Asia Blog)
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