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The Potential Benefits of Vitamin D

  Research was recently presented at the 5th Cooperative Meeting of the Consortium of MS centers (CMSC) and the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ACTRIMS), which suggests vitamin D can potentially benefit multiple sclerosis patients who are currently receiving therapy. Genes associated with increased vitamin D levels, as well as interferon b-1b, are associated with a decrease in gadolinium-enhancing lesions (Gd+, a type of lesion commonly found in MS patients). A clinical trial known as the BENEFIT* study, examined the safety and effectiveness of early interferon b-1b treatment in patients at risk for developing MS. During this study, researchers also examined patients’ vitamin D levels to determine if it effected lesion development. Patients enrolled in the study had experienced a clinically significant event, which was suggestive of MS. Patients were randomly assigned to receive 250 mg interferon b-1b or a placebo subcutaneously (by injection) every other day for a period of two years. Researchers were hoping that early treatment of interferon b-1b would reduce the risk...

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PML and the Anti-JCV Antibody

  For MS patients considering using Tysabri as a treatment method, the risk of developing PML is a serious concern. PML is a disease caused by a viral infection, which affects the white matter of the brain. The instigating virus in PML is called Polyomavirus JC, more commonly known as the JC virus (JCV). In the majority of people the JC virus causes little to no harm, and it is only in people suffering from weakened immune systems that the virus seems to trigger PML. PML usually occurs in patients undergoing corticosteroid or immunosuppressive therapy.1 Tysabri treatments have been shown to result in the development of PML in a small percentage of patients (<1%). When two patients developed PML after receiving combination therapy of Tysabri and Avonex in 2004, FDA approval for Tysabri was suspended. However, Tysabri was re-approved in 2006 with revised labeling.2 PML is a very serious disease, and although the risk for developing PML is low, patients and their doctors need to determine if the benefits...

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Treating MS with Tysabri

Most medications currently being used to treat MS have been shown to reduce patients’ annualized relapse rates (ARRs), but fail to significantly slow disease progression. Moreover, side effects brought on by such treatments often lead to patients stopping treatment after an extended period of use. There continues to be a need for more effective treatments which are able to lower relapse rates and slow disease progression.1 The drug Tysabri belongs to a new class of selective adhesion-molecule inhibitorsa which are being used to treat MS.2 The effectiveness of Tysabri as a treatment option in combination with current therapies and alone was studied in two Phase III clinical trials. The SENTINELb study was a multi-center, double-blind (patients and doctors were unaware of which treatment they were receiving) study conducted over a two-year period. It was designed to determine if adding Tysabri to Avonex (Avonex) treatments would improve the overall effectiveness of the treatment compared to Avonex alone. 1,171 patients diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) were enrolled in the study. Each...

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