MS Research Roundup: January 9, 2014
Bad Statistics in Most Recent MS Mouse Model Papers; Better Value, Less Waste in Medical Research; New Guideline for Psychiatric Disorders in MS; FDA Faults MS Drug Study Design; Hockey Goalie Out on New Treatment
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bad or missing statistics are still the rule, rather than the exception, for published studies that use the popular experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis rodent model for multiple sclerosis. The charge was leveled this week in PLOS Biology. The analysis, which started as a student project, judged the statistics as wrong or unreported "in over 95 percent of cases in top tier journals and over 60 percent in the total literature....truly shocking," wrote David Baker, Ph.D., also known as MouseDoctor, a neuroimmunologist at Queen Mary University of London, who led the study. “There’s this very vocal minority of clinicians who say ‘animal data is rubbish, it never translates into human benefit,’ ” Baker told Nature. “By doing bad science which is of poor quality and experimental design, we just pander to that problem.” Authors use the handy checklist based on the 2010 Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines, and journal editors get tough about enforcing it, said the accompanying editorial. (Multiple Sclerosis Research Blog, Nature News Blog)
Evidence-Based New Year's Resolutions
Improper randomization, insufficient sample size, and missing numbers are just the beginning of high-priority New Year's Resolution fodder, according to a research series today in The Lancet. "The situation is dire," summed up a journalist under the heading, Researchers agree: A study is a terrible thing to waste. Other weak spots include not asking the right research questions, poor research design, and nonpublication of research, opines Paul Glasziou, Ph.D., a general practitioner and expert on evidence-based medicine at Bond University on Australia's Gold Coast. (Covering Health blog)
Guidelines Back Mental-Health Treatment in MS
New recommendations to screen, diagnose, and treat psychiatric disorders in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) from the American Academy of Neurology reveal a weak evidence base and showcase the need for further study. "The reason for the guideline is that individuals with MS are at increased risk of emotional disorders," said Sarah Minden, M.D., a psychiatrist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who worked on the guideline. "If these disorders are not detected and treated, they can worsen functioning and quality of life, interfere with adherence to treatments for MS, and increase the risk of suicide." (Medscape Medical News)
Study Design Sticking Point
The FDA rejected Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), an MS drug by Genzyme approved in Canada, Europe, and Australia, based on the trial methods used. "It creates an extremely difficult and dangerous situation," Aaron Miller, M.D., a neurologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY, told MSDF. The danger, Miller said, lies in the probability that some patients will travel to other countries to get the drug and miss out on the close monitoring required for its use. (Wolters Kluwer Law & Health Blog, Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum)
The difficulties in choosing the best treatment for people with MS recently moved from scientific meeting halls and journals to sports headlines when Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding was put on the injured reserve list to undergo a change in treatment protocol. (Minnesota Star Tribune, NBC Sports ProHockey Talk)
Dr. Baker, along with his colleague at Barts, Gavin Giovannoni, M.D. (a member of MSDF’s Scientific Advisory Board), writes the popular Multiple Sclerosis Research Blog.
This post was updated to credit the Covering Health blog for The Lancet series tip.