Bacteria in your gut aid in more than digestion. The gut microbiome is made up of all the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in a persons gut. A persons microbiome can be affected by many things, ranging from diet to smoking or drinking, and antibiotic use. A whole new area of research is showing how important the microbiome is for maintaining overall health and the immune system, and studies have linked certain species of bacteria with obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. Studies in animal models of MS suggest that the gut microbiome may play a role in disease since certain species of bacteria have been linked with protection from disease in these animal models. Studies with small groups of MS patients have revealed promising results, but these are limited due to their size. Most of the data in humans is currently descriptive and show some differences in broad groups of bacteria between MS patients and healthy people. Larger scale studies, like those being conducted by the MS Microbiome Consortium, should reveal a clearer role for the microbiome in MS. For complex diseases like MS, an integrative approach to therapy that factors in lifestyle choices that clearly affect the microbiome could be hugely beneficial. READ MORE. Here is a link for open enrollment in MS Microbiome Consortium study: http://msgenetics.ucsf.edu/cr_Guts.html
Anti-LINGO Phase II trial data released by Biogen indicates success in repair. There is no available therapy for MS that aims to repair myelin that has been destroyed in the CNS. BIIB033 is a new antibody from Biogen that targets LINGO, a protein expressed by neurons and myelin-producing oligodendrocyte cells in the CNS. This anti-LINGO antibody promotes CNS repair, or remyelination, in animal models of MS, which highlights its potential for repair in humans. Phase I clinical trials were completed in August 2014, and a current Phase II trial is underway for treatment of relapse remitting MS. Biogen recently announced clinical trial data showing the success of BIIB033 in the treatment of acute optic neuritis (AON). AON is caused by inflammation of the optic nerve and is a common symptom of MS. This new data is important because it shows safety and success of the first drug whose goal is to promote repair of damage in the CNS. Here is a link to the ongoing Phase II clinical trial for MS: https://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01864148
Linking imaging data with clinical data in patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS). A key challenge in understanding MS is linking imaging information, usually obtained through MRI, to clinical data, such as physical disabilities in patients. The ability to link this image data with clinical data is key for two key reasons: 1) to improve understanding of disease mechanisms that lead to injury and disability and 2) develop image-based markers of disease that might help predict disease course. This study used a combination of two imaging methods, called MRS and QSI, to determine if changes in the images of the cervical cord (the area of the CNS behind the throat) predict degeneration in the spinal chord region of the CNS. They also determined if imaging could be associated with disability in patients with PPMS. Several clinical measurements were found to be associated with imaging data. For example, a higher concentration of myo-inositol, a molecule that can be quantified through this imaging, was associated with poor postural stability. This study provides an excellent framework for developing imaging and clinical correlations, and should be extended to study larger groups of patients over time.
Rescue and repurpose: new insights from existing drugs. There is a huge unmet clinical need for drugs to treat PPMS. One proposed approach to find new drugs is to use already approved drugs, or those that are far along in their development, since most of these have undergone the costly process of clinical trials to show safety. This study developed a formal system to find these drug candidates based on their potential to be relevant to PPMS disease, their ability to be taken orally, and good safety data. Starting from 19,092 publications, they developed a candidate list of 52 drugs, of which 7 are recommended for further study in clinical trials for PPMS. This is important because this study provides a systematic method for this “drug rescue” approach, and has identified 7 candidate oral drugs for testing. READ MORE