Some of the more interesting new studies included two studies of different forms or dosing schedules for agents already
in use. A long acting form of interferon, given every 2 or 4 weeks, had benefits
similar to the currently used forms of interferon, with no new side effects. Glatiramer (copaxone) given
at 40 mg three times a week decreased the relapse rate and MRI activity to a degree similar to that of the currently used
dose, 20 mg daily. These may be easier to use and tolerate, if approved for marketing by the FDA.
Also, a small study of vitamin D in MS patients with a low vitamin D level showed that you need a dose of 10,000 IU
per day to increase the blood levels.
There were numerous additional results or extension results from trials that have already reported their primary outcomes.
The primary results from the CombiRx trial of combined interferon and glatiramer were reported at AAN last
year. Extension results were reported this year. Although there was a small benefit
of the combined treatments on the MRI measures, there wasn’t any difference in the groups on clinical outcome.
Daclizumab, a monoclonal antibody against the interleukin-2 receptor, continued to have impressive effectiveness in
their extension study. A second large phase III study of teriflunomide had results similar to the first
study reported last year.
There were some interesting results on the scientific side also. Dr.
von Budingen compared the B cells found in spinal fluid and in the blood, and concluded that many B cells underwent maturation
after moving from the blood to the brain. There were also some excellent presentations on the effects of
high salt on immune system function, with interesting implications for how the modern American diet may increase risk of autoimmune
diseases. Dr. George Ebers from Oxford received the Dystel Prize from the National MS Society, and gave
an insightful lecture which pulled together many of his wide-ranging research studies over the last few decades on the environmental
and genetic contributors to MS. Many of these studies point to a low level of vitamin D as an important