Sep
01
2007

MS Vaccine Breakthrough

One of the great hopes associated with genetic research is the goal to combat disease. With the human genome project completed it is now possible to look at new therapies. The work remains large and seems to be overwhelming, but a new vaccine for MS represents a major triumph. MS has been an illness that has devastated individuals and their families. It also has vexed and frustrated researchers and health professionals. Immunomodulating therapy with interferon has been able to make a difference in the quality of life for many patients, but so far it has been a seemingly impossible dream to find a vaccine that is safe and effective.

Montreal research, which has been published in August, confirms that the vaccine works by reducing the numbers of the immune system cells attacking the nerve fiber sheath. MS belongs to the groups of autoimmune diseases, meaning that cells of the own immune system turn against other body cells and destroy them. The challenge has been to stop these cells. So far immunomodulators have been looked at as an answer to this problem. This breakthrough represents a first in the history of medicine where a DNA vaccine will be used in the treatment of an autoimmune disease, which is MS.

MS Vaccine Breakthrough

MS Vaccine Breakthrough

Other autoimmune diseases are lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. No vaccine is available for these diseases, but the first DNA vaccine represents hope for many, that more therapies will become available.

As this review shows, the DNA vaccine experiment against MS failed, because in clinical trials it did not stop MS lesions from growing: http://multiple-sclerosis-research.blogspot.com/2012/01/research-myelin-dna-vaccination-and.html

More information about MS: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/multiple-sclerosis/

Reference: National Review of Medicine, August 30, 2007, page 10

Last edited November 3, 2014

Jun
01
2005

Epstein-Barr Virus Responsible For Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease, which is dreaded by patients and a puzzle to researchers. While there are MS treatments that control the disease, it remains crucial to treat the early onset. So far the triggering factors have been an unsolved puzzle. Genetic traits and poor nutrition have been implied, yet there has been no conclusive evidence. For a long time there has been the suspicion amongst researchers, that a “multiple sclerosis virus” could be the culprit.

New research, which has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the truth is not far off.

Between 1988 and 2000 blood samples have been taken in a study among medical personnel of the United States. Special attention was paid to the group that was granted a permanent disability due to chronic illness. Amongst those who had Multiple Sclerosis, positive blood tests for Epstein Barr virus titers were prominent. The affected individuals were young adults, and the infection with the Epstein-Barr virus had occurred several years before the onset of the illness (the average time between the collection of the blood specimen and the onset of MS was 4 years.) There was also a correlation between the age of the patient and the occurrence of illness. The risk at age 25 was three-fold higher than at age 20 to contract Epstein Barr viral infection. Another strong indicator was an elevated serum level of IgG antibodies to EBNA complex or EBNA-1. This finding was associated with a three-fold risk for the development of MS.

Epstein-Barr Virus Responsible For Multiple Sclerosis

Epstein-Barr Virus Responsible For Multiple Sclerosis

This result would be of interest to young adults who were infected with mononucleosis, as the Epstein-Barr virus, which triggers the seemingly harmless and self-limiting “kissing disease”, seems to entail a higher risk for the development of MS in a younger adult population.

More information on MS:  http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/multiple-sclerosis/

Reference: JAMA Vol293, Nr.20, 2496-2501, May 25,2005

Last edited October 28, 2014

Jan
01
2005

Relapse Of MS Reduced By New Drug

The effects of MS have been devastating to people afflicted by the disease. New research has brought treatments to combat the progression of the illness, yet relapses after remission have remained perplexing and frustrating to physicians and patients alike. Interferon has been a tremendous help, but patients often experienced flu-like symptoms after receiving interferon. Treatment with steroids has been problematical as well.

The results with Natalizumab (Antegren) are showing impressive results: relapses of MS are reduced by two-thirds (compared to placebo) The drug mechanism works by inhibiting the migration of aggressive auto-immune cells into such tissues as the brain, where they would cause inflammation, which in turn would cause MS lesions. Dr. Paul O’Connor is the lead investigator of the trial and chief of the MS clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and he reports that this new medication gives double the effect compared to previous drugs against MS. MRI scans also showed 90% less new lesions compared to patients who took placebo (ineffective “fake” medication). Compared to previous MS drugs the medication is safe and well tolerated. The administration of the drug has to be done intravenously, so the patient would need to make a trip to a clinic or hospital once a month.

Relapse Of MS Reduced By New Drug (Approved, Then Not Approved, Now Approved Again)

Relapse Of MS Reduced By New Drug (Approved, Then Not Approved, Now Approved Again)

On the strength of the excellent results the approval process of the drug is carried out only after one year of the study. A second study involving approximately 1,200 patients is ongoing, and the manufacturers of natazulinab (Elan Corp. and Biogen Idec Inc.) are anticipating regulatory approval in the United States. They are also seeking the approval of the drug with Health Canada.

Addendum: This drug was withdrawn from the market due to unacceptable side-effects as can be seen from this link. Here is a review of multiple sclerosis treatments that offers an alternative approach.

Reference: The Medical Post, November 30, 2004, page 49

Last edited October 27, 2014

Sep
01
2004

Epstein-Barr Virus Linked With MS

MS, the debilitating and at times fatal disease which affects about 50,000 Canadians continues to be a puzzle to medical researchers. New findings are shedding new light on this illness and may help to unravel its complexities and bring more effective treatment to patients.

Dr.Brenda Banwell from the Department of Pediatrics and the Pediatric MS Clinic at The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto found that 83 % of children with a diagnosis of MS showed evidence of a previous Epstein-Barr virus infection. (Healthy controls only showed a rate of 42 %). No differences were found for other viruses (like herpes, parvovirus, chicken pox). Researchers have yet to determine, whether there is a link between Epstein-Barr virus infections and MS, or whether MS patients are more susceptible to Epstein-Barr infections.

With regard to MS treatment amazing improvement has been demonstrated on MS patients who were treated with the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin. A reduction of MS induced brain lesions by 44 % was achieved in patients treated with the drug, and animal experiments show similar results. Researchers are cautioning MS patients that more investigations will be needed, till this treatment will become a new standard in the treatment of MS.

Epstein-Barr Virus Linked With MS

Epstein-Barr Virus Linked With MS

Link to more information on multiple sclerosis.

Reference: Parkhurst Exchange, Vol.12, Nr.8, August 2004,page26

Last edited December 8, 2012

Feb
01
2004

Less Multiple Sclerosis (MS) With Vitamin D Supplement

In multiple sclerosis (MS) the body’s immune system appears to attack the insulation material of nerve cells (called “demyelination”) leading to areas of focal inflammation. These areas can be depicted with MRI scans (see white MS lesions, compared to a normal brain). A new study showed that vitamin D supplementation (as part of a multivitamin supplement) was reducing the risk of developing MS in women when compared to women who did not take supplements. This study was published by Munger et al. from the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston/MA, in the Jan. 13, 2004 edition of Neurology.

The study is based on data from two large nurses health studies (NHS with 92,253 women followed from 1980 to 2000 and NHSII with 95,310 women followed from 1991 to 2001). The study material was pooled into one database. Among these 187,563 women 173 developed MS during the course of the original studies. When the group of women who took 400 IU or more of Vit.D supplements (as multivitamins) were compared to the group who took less than 400 IU or none, the investigators found that they were 40% less likely to develop MS. Other factors that can lead to higher frequencies of MS such as smoking or latitude at birth had been adjusted for. There has not been a change in the results of the protective effect of Vit.D. With food being the only source for vitamin D (skim milk, fish) the protective effect against MS was not demonstrable. However, when food vitamin D was combined with additional multiple vitamin tablets (with vitamin D) the protective effect against MS was observed.

Less Multiple Sclerosis (MS) With Vitamin D Supplement

Less Multiple Sclerosis (MS) With Vitamin D Supplement

In the introduction the authors pointed out that Vit. D has been shown in other studies to be an immune response modulator weakening autoimmune reactions. This effect has been shown clearly in a mouse model of MS, called experimental autoimmune encephalopathy. There are also data available from human research, which showed that certain cytokines are released in the presence of vitamin D so that the immune cells are less likely to attack the brain tissue. There were also seasonal variations that could be demonstrated in this study, which indicated that MS lesions were progressing at times when vitamin D levels were low and that they were regressing when vitamin D levels were high.

The authors of this study stressed that this is the first study to suggest a protective effect of vitamin D against MS, which would have to be confirmed in other studies that preferably would also include males. It shows a very strong statistical connection, but cannot conclusively prove causation. The investigators said that further studies will also be needed to confirm the notion that vitamin D may be beneficial as part of the treatment in MS patients.

Link regarding vitamins and minerals: http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/vitaminsmineralsandsupplements.php#vitaminsandminerals

Last edited December 8, 2012