Ten, nine, eight… The end of 2015 means we’re a year closer to finding the answers and a cure for multiple sclerosis. Before we ring in 2016, let’s take a look back at all the progress made and lessons learned this year.
Biggest MS Headlines in 2015
There were a lot of attention-grabbing headlines in 2015. Here’s a look at the top stories:
- iConquerMS.org launched the first patient-powered research network of its kind for MS.
- The oral disease modifying agents Gilenya and Tecfidera were linked to cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a serious brain infection that was previously only thought to occur in people taking the disease-modifying drug Tysabri.
- Researchers discovered a network of small vessels linking the brain and immune system. This finding could help unlock the mystery of how MS develops and lead to more effective treatments
- Seasonal changes in melatonin levels were linked to relapse rates, which may explain why people with MS tend to have more relapses in the summer and fewer in the winter.
- The first generic disease-modifying agent, Glatopa (generic Copaxone), hit the market.
- Scientists found that MS may be triggered by the death of the brain cells that produce myelin. They also found that a specially designed nanoparticle could prevent MS even after the death of those cells.
2015 MS Research Funding
MS research is paid for by non-profit organizations, government programs, pharmaceutical companies, and private foundations. Here are some of the research funding highlights from 2015:
- The National MS Society contributed $28 million to support 84 new research projects.
- The Multiple Sclerosis Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program allocated $5 million toward finding answers for people living with MS.
- The International Progressive MS Alliance promised $25 million over the next five years for research specifically aimed at progressive MS.
- Patient Centered Research Outcomes Institute pledged to give up to $50 million to support MS research.
2015 MS Progress Report
It’s frustrating that there’s no cure for MS, but it’s helpful to know that many people are working hard to find it. Anytime you’re having doubts about that, read this recap of progress made in 2015 toward creating a world free of MS.
Finding Answers for Progressive MS
Progressive MS was declared a top priority by the National MS Society in 2015. The recently formed International Progressive MS Alliance (IPMSA) focuses on finding answers and potential treatments for people with progressive ms who currently have very few options. Here is a summary of the Alliance’s progress:
- Ocrelizumab was found to be an effective treatment for progressive MS through clinical trials that concluded in 2015. It will be submitted to the FDA for approval in early 2016.
- A clinical trial for Laquinimod, an oral treatment, began recruiting participants.
- Multiple projects investigating the use of stem cells to treat progressive ms are underway.
- Recent research showed that Biotin, an over-the-counter supplement, may improve disability.
- A phase-II trial for Ibudilast, a potential medication for progressive MS, launched.
New and Ongoing MS Clinical Trials
It’s hopeful to know that there are many clinical trials in the works for treating MS. Here’s the rundown of current trials:
- Phase III of a trial for oral Ponesimod, a potential treatment for RRMS and SPMS, began this year.
- Results of a Phase II clinical trial suggested that a pill used to treat epilepsy, phenytoin, may slow MS progression.
- A trial of an oral medication for RRMS, RPC1063, was launched this year.
- Studies suggest that a medication called Anti-Lingo-1 has the potential to reverse MS damage and restore function.
- Multiple stem cell trials are ongoing.
- Results of a phase II trial suggest that estriol, a female sex hormone that increases during pregnancy, can potentially reduce relapses by 32% when taken with Copaxone.
- Phase III results for Daclizumab, a once-a-month treatment for RRMS, showed that it is more effective than interferons in reducing relapse rates and the accumulation of new lesions.
- A phase I trial of rHIgM22, a potential new treatment for relapses, launched this year.
- Trials on diet, gut, myelin repair, and patient centered wellness programs are ongoing.
- Researchers are looking at whether a bladder medication, Solofenacin, could repair myelin.
- Studies are investigating the use of a blood pressure medication, Guanabenz, to reduce MS damage.
Reducing MS Symptoms, Slowing and Stopping MS Progression
Research on how to manage MS while we wait for a cure is vital. Scientists are making new, important discoveries in this area all the time. Here’s an overview of what they found in 2015:
- Studies on exercise and rehabilitation are being conducted to find ways to rewire the brain and restore function in people with MS.
- Data indicates that smoking can lead to more rapid MS progression.
- Recent data suggests that drinking coffee can help slow MS progression.
- Early human trials investigating ways to repair myelin are underway.
- Research on the link between the gut, diet, and immune system is ongoing.
- Researchers are looking for ways to protect the central nervous system from MS damage.
- Scientists are investigating the the role of environmental and lifestyle triggers such as childhood obesity, smoking, vitamin-D levels, salt intake, exercise, sun exposure, and omega-3 intake. Identifying MS triggers could help us prevent future generations from getting MS.
- Researchers are uncovering more and more genetic clues in their hunt for what causes MS.
Stephanie Buxhoeveden MSCN, FNP-BC Stephanie is a nurse practitioner who was diagnosed with MS at age 25. Shortly after being diagnosed she realized she could use her experiences as a patient to make a difference in the lives of others, so she became a multiple sclerosis certified nurse. Stephanie completed her master’s in nursing at Rutgers University, and now specializes in the care of people with MS and other neurological diseases.
Her blog, www.justkeepsmyelin.com, offers a unique perspective on MS from both a healthcare provider’s point of view, and through the eyes of a person living with the disease every day. Her mission is to bring compassion, humor, and a deeper understanding of MS to anyone who reads it. She also writes forMultipleSclerosis.net, MSFocus Magazine, serves as a District Activist Leader for the National MS Society and is on the membership committee of iConquerMS.
ms news, ms research, ocrelizumab, progressive ms, RRMS