MS Research Roundup: February 12, 2014
Mystery Myelin Drug to Be Tested; Mapping MS Depression in Women; Drug Marketing Investigation; Shirley Temple Black, MS Advocate
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: email@example.com.
Mystery Medicine for Myelin Repair
A generic high blood pressure drug approved two decades ago is about to undergo clinical testing for myelin repair in a cooperative agreement (PDF) between the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF) and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The generic drug came to the foundation's attention when a University of Chicago researcher it funded read a paper more than 15 months ago that mentioned the drug’s use in the endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway, the San Francisco Business Times reported. Researchers in the foundation's lab conducted extensive preclinical testing on the drug, code-named MRF-008, in their Translational Medicine Platform, which is designed to bridge the "Valley of Death," the gap between discovery and clinical development. The Silicon Valley-based MRF is keeping mum about the drug's name until the preclinical data are published, spokesperson Jennifer Chang told MSDF. Irene Cortese, M.D., and Daniel Reich, M.D., Ph.D., will lead the research study at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (San Francisco Business Times, Myelin Repair Foundation)
Mapping Depression in MS
Women with MS and a depressed mood or lack of interest were more likely to have a smaller right hippocampus, researchers who used a new automated technique to evaluate MRI images found. The study aimed to distinguish between the biological correlates of depression and fatigue, both common in MS. The findings in the January 2014 issue of Human Brain Mapping support earlier studies suggesting that the hippocampus may contribute to the high frequency of depression in multiple sclerosis, the authors wrote. "Our studies are designed to help us better understand how MS-related depression differs from other types, improve diagnostic imaging systems to make them more widely available and efficient, and create better, more individualized treatments for our patients," said Cedars-Sinai neurologist Nancy Sicotte, M.D., in a press release. The study of 109 women, including 26 with high depression, is a secondary analysis of the baseline data from a randomized controlled trial examining the effects of a stress management intervention among patients with MS. (Medscape, Cedars-Sinai)
Drug Marketing Investigation
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' marketing and promotion of multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) and Parkinson's disease treatment rasagiline. With sales of more than $1 billion a quarter, Copaxone is the company's number one selling drug. According to Teva's filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the government is investigating possible civil violations of the federal False Claims Act and has asked for documents dating back to January 1, 2006. In the filing, Teva noted it is conducting a voluntary inquiry into certain business practices and has hired independent legal counsel to assist in its investigation (Bloomberg, PharmaTimes, MedPageToday, Wall Street Journal)
Curly Hair and MS Advocacy
Some obituaries have noted the contributions to MS advocacy of famed child actor and diplomat Shirley Temple Black, who died on Monday at age 85. The Miami Herald quoted from the lifetime achievement award she received in 2006 from the Screen Actors Guild: "Her role as a diplomat evolved from her desire to assist her brother George, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1952. Active on the local and national boards of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, she co-founded the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, building its membership to 19 countries and intensifying her interest in world affairs." (Miami Herald, Screen Actors Guild)
Read other MS Research Roundups.