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ECTRIMS Bulletin: January 2023

min read

Latest developments in MS research: a recent study offers insights into gut bacteria & MS; a new DMT aims to stop MS progression; and protein similarities between MS & COVID-19 are discovered

These noteworthy MS news highlights and more are included in our recently published ECTRIMS Bulletins – a 30-day snapshot of global news & publications on MS research, treatment and care.

ECTRIMS Bulletins can be sent to you every month, delivered straight to your inbox, via our free subscription service. Simply select all “topics” that are of interest to you, and when one of those appears in our news & publication cycle you’ll be sure to hear from us.



COVID-19 Could Trigger MS Via ‘Molecular Mimicry,’ Study Shows

MS News Today | 10 January 2023
A new study shows that a protein in the virus that causes COVID-19 is structurally similar to several proteins targeted by the immune system in MS. The results provide a potential mechanism for how COVID-19 could trigger MS-like disease in susceptible individuals.


Quality of life and mental health in multiple sclerosis patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mult Scler Relat Disord | 24 December 2022

In this questionnaire-based study, the investigators examined the psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable groups such as individuals living with MS. The study noted a significant increase in unemployment during the pandemic with associated limitations on instrumented activities of daily life and increased anxiety, all of which had a negative impact on quality of life. It is hoped that the findings from the study may help in the implementation of policies to prevent some of the negative outcomes observed.

Longitudinal adaptive immune responses following sequential SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations in MS patients on anti-CD20 therapies and sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor modulators

Mult Scler Relat Disord | 28 December 2022

This observational study assessed the effects of a third SARS-CoV-2 vaccination on antibody and T-cell responses in MS patients treated with anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies or sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor modulators, adding to the evolving understanding of vaccine response in individuals with MS receiving disease-modifying treatment. The authors’ findings provide information for optimising vaccine immunity for this patient population.

Exploring COVID-19 experiences for persons with multiple sclerosis and carers: An Australian qualitative study

Health Expect | 13 January 2023

The findings from this interview-based study suggest that additional support is required by individuals living with MS and their carers to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to affect communities worldwide.


Clinical Diagnosis, Imaging and Biomarkers

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Quanterix Poised to Launch Test That Monitors NfL Levels

MS News Today | 12 January 2023
Quanterix Corporation‘s laboratory test, Simoa NfL LDT, designed to measure blood levels of neurofilament light chain (NfL) has been validated by the arm of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company plans to launch this test to help to help monitor neuronal damage in people with neurodegenerative diseases, including MS.

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Associations between smartphone keystroke dynamics and cognition in MS

Digit Health | 5 December 2022

This study monitored smartphone keystroke dynamics to assess cognitive functioning in individuals with MS. Individuals with better cognitive functioning and less severe symptoms were found to be better at monitoring typing errors. Keystroke dynamics have therefore been proposed as a potential means of unobtrusively monitoring relapses, treatment efficacy and disease progression in MS.

Molecular biomarkers and cognitive impairment in multiple sclerosis: State of the field, limitations, and future direction – A systematic review and meta-analysis

Neurosci Biobehav Rev | 3 January 2023
This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to consolidate evidence for biomarkers of cognitive impairment in MS. The authors concluded that both neurofilament light chain and vitamin D are promising biomarkers to track, however, further longitudinal research is needed to establish the use of molecular biomarkers to monitor cognitive decline in individuals with MS.


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FDA Approval of Ublituximab, Now Briumvi, Is Good News

MS News Today | 6 January 2023

A new disease-modifying therapy (DMT) has joined the MS drug armamentarium. Shortly after Christmas, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ublituximab, which aims to halt MS progression by knocking out certain B-cells in the immune system.

TeraImmune, NIAID Partnership Extended to Boost Treg Therapies

MS News Today | 6 January 2023
TeraImmune is extending its collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to continue developing regulatory T-cell-based therapies for MS and other autoimmune diseases.

Program Bringing PoNS Device to MS Patients at Lower Cost Extended

MS News Today | 9 January 2023
Helius Medical Technologies has extended by 6 months the Patient Therapy Access Program (PTAP) that allows MS patients in the US to access its Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS) device at a reduced cost. PoNS is an approved device designed to improve walking ability in patients with impaired gait.

Pheno, UCB Team Up to Bring New Remyelination Therapies to Trial

MS News Today | 13 January 2023
Pheno Therapeutics has entered into an agreement with UCB to develop new therapies targeting remyelination as a treatment strategy for MS and other neurological disorders that are characterised by the loss of myelin. It is hoped that this agreement will permit acceleration of a promising drug target towards clinical development.

Exosome-based Therapy Eases Disease in MS Mouse Model

MS News Today | 13 January 2023
A new therapy that uses cellular ‘shipping containers’ to deliver the anti-inflammatory compound resveratrol to nervous system immune cells has shown promise in a mouse model of MS. The findings from this study support the use of this technology for targeted drug delivery.

Novartis’ Kesimpta, ECTRIMS 2022, and relapsing multiple sclerosis

pharmaphorum | 13 January 2023
In this interview, Dr Jeffrey Cohen, director of research for the Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis, discussed data presented at the ECTRIMS Annual Meeting demonstrating the safety and efficacy of Novartis’ Kesimpta (ofatumumab) when used as an early intervention treatment option in relapsing MS.

Therapeutic Target for Inflammation From Astrocytes Found

MS News Today | 16 January 2023
Using a new methodology called FIND-seq, researchers have identified novel signalling molecules that regulate the activation of certain subsets of astrocytes thought to drive inflammation in MS. Astrocytes are a family of nerve support cells that populate the central nervous system. These small, star-shaped cells perform a variety of roles, including keeping nerve cells healthy by regulating blood flow, supporting energy needs, and aiding in nerve cell repair after injury.

FSD Pharma submits clinical trial application for its multiple sclerosis treatment candidate Lucid-MS

Proactive Pharma & Biotech | 17 January 2023

FSD Pharma has announced the submission of a Clinical Trial Application (CTA) for a planned Phase 1 clinical trial for Lucid-MS, its pipeline MS treatment. Lucid-MS has been described as a “first-in-class neuroprotective compound” with a novel mechanism of action that has been shown to prevent myelin degradation.

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Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in people with active secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

Neurology | 21 December 2022

The efficacy of autologous haematopoeitic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) was compared with that of other anti-inflammatory disease-modifying therapies in this study, with a particular focus on effects on long-term disability worsening in individuals with active secondary progressive MS (SPMS). Patients with active SPMS treated with AHSCT in this study demonstrated a decrease in disability progression, with an allied increased probability of disability improvement, compared with standard immunotherapies.

Teriflunomide as a therapeutic means for myelin repair

J Neuroinflammation | 7 January 2023

This study used a toxin-mediated model of MS to examine the effects of teriflunomide on myelin repair. Both pulse and constant teriflunomide treatment boosted myelin repair, by increasing the production of the cells responsible for myelin generation and so preventing neurodegeneration.

Neural stem cell transplantation in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis: an open-label, phase 1 study

Nat Med | 9 January 2023

A Phase 1 trial using an allogeneic stem cell-based therapy in people with progressive MS demonstrated the feasibility and tolerability of the approach; rigorous evaluation of this and other regenerative strategies for MS is now needed.

Decrease of natalizumab drug levels after switching from intravenous to subcutaneous administration in patients with multiple sclerosis

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry | 13 January 2023

This study evaluated the course of natalizumab trough drug levels in patients who switched from intravenous to subcutaneous drug administration. Trough drug levels were found to decrease after switching from intravenous to subcutaneous administration of natalizumab, underlining the need for drug monitoring.


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Differences in Bacteria, Viruses in MS Patients’ Guts Seen in Study

MS News Today | 9 January 2023
The amounts of more than 60 species of bacteria were altered in the gut in people with MS compared to those without the disease, a new study reports. Researchers also identified differences in the makeup of viruses that infect gut bacteria in MS patients, which may open up promising avenues for future treatment strategies.

Multiple sclerosis (MS): Intestinal bacteria may have an anti-inflammatory effect

Medical News Today | 13 January 2023
According to a recent study, individuals with MS have a different composition of gut bacteria compared to individuals without MS. Findings also indicated that types of gut bacteria in individuals with MS may vary depending on whether they are experiencing symptoms. A potential role may exist for future MS therapies that target the gut microbiota.

MS Relapse, Worse Disease More Likely for Smokers: New Study

MS News Today | 17 January 2023
A study in Japan has demonstrated that individuals with relapsing-remitting MS who are receiving oral disease-modifying therapies are still more likely to experience a relapse or any form of disease activity if they are smokers. Researchers also observed that former smokers had a disease course that was very similar to that of people who had never smoked.

Early Progression Independent of Relapses Linked to Worse Disability

MS News Today | 17 January 2023
Within the first 12 years following the onset of symptoms, approximately a quarter of people with clinically isolated syndrome, or a first episode of MS symptoms, showed a worsening of disability independent of relapses.

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Ultrastructural Axon–Myelin Unit Alterations in Multiple Sclerosis Correlate with Inflammation

Ann Neurol | 24 December 2022

This study examined the potential connection between changes in otherwise normal-appearing white matter in individuals with MS and low-grade inflammation. Subclinical alterations in myelin and neuronal energy demands were observed which may contribute to disease progression in individuals with MS.

Differential Diagnosis

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Late-onset multiple sclerosis in Iran: A report on demographic and disease characteristics

Mult Scler Relat Disord | 29 December 2022

This registry-based, cross-sectional study examined the characteristics of patients in Iran with late-onset MS. A significantly higher proportion of male sex, progressive MS and increased disability were seen in the late-onset group compared with early-onset and adult-onset cases of MS, suggesting that this patient population may have a more prominent degenerative pathology.

Characterization of a late-onset multiple sclerosis Portuguese cohort

Mult Scler Relat Disord | 7 January 2023

Late-onset MS (LOMS), defined by the onset of symptoms at ≥50 years of age, is an increasingly recognised subset of MS. This retrospective chart review compared demographic and clinical data from patients at a Portuguese tertiary centre with LOMS and those with early-onset MS. LOMS was found to be associated with increased disability compared to early-onset disease.

Nursing and Care Management

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Lifestyle Changes to Increase Physical Activity Improved MS Fatigue

MS News Today | 10 January 2023
A behavioural intervention that teaches people with MS strategies for becoming physically active significantly improved patient-reported measures of fatigue over a year, but had no effect on other self-reported disease outcomes, according to new data from a Phase 3 trial.

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise in MS Modulated by Specific Brain Region

MS News Today | 12 January 2023
Aerobic training for up to 3 months significantly outperformed less strenuous exercise at improving walking capacity among individuals with MS, a new study reports. However, the benefits of aerobic exercise seemed to be greater among individuals without MS-related damage in the insula, a key region of the brain involved in cardiac regulation.

Use of Virtual Reality Physiotherapy in MS Found to Boost Adherence

MS News Today | 16 January 2023
A review of clinical trials has suggested that the use of virtual reality-based physiotherapy to improve balance and gait in people with MS is linked to lower dropout rates than those found with conventional rehabilitation methods.

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Lower corticospinal excitability and greater fatigue among people with multiple sclerosis experiencing pain

Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin | 5 January 2023

Pain experienced by individuals with MS has a negative effect on quality of life. This study examined differences in corticospinal excitability related to pain and concluded that those MS patients with pain had both higher fatigue and lower corticospinal excitability compared with those without pain.

Appointment attendance behaviors in multiple sclerosis: Understanding the factors that differ between no shows, short notice cancellations, and attended appointments

Mult Scler Relat Disord | 7 January 2023

This study, which examined the factors that differ between appointment attendance and non-attendance, concluded that short notice cancellations may be related to situational factors such as the weather, while behavioural issues are more likely to underlie no shows. This knowledge may improve both healthcare efficiency and patient health by highlighting targets to reduce missed appointments.

Effects of multi-task training on motor and cognitive performances in multiple sclerosis patients without clinical disability: a single-blinded randomized controlled trial

Acta Neurol Belg | 7 January 2023

This study, conducted in individuals with MS without clinical disability, demonstrated that multi-task training increased performance in both single cognitive and single motor tasks. The authors conclude that multi-task training improved cognitive functioning, but had no significant effect on motor functioning in individuals with MS