There was not much on new treatments this year. The clinical trial that I found most interesting was a study of a masitinib in progressive MS. This drug targets a type of white blood cell called a mast cell, which usually functions in allergy. The investigators compared placebo to two different doses of the drug, 4.5 mg and 6 mg. The results for the 4.5 mg were promising, but the results with 6 mg were negative. This is disappointing, since we really need more effective treatments for progressive MS.
There is a lot of interest in treatments which can repair damage in MS. A small study with bexarotene found some suggestion of benefit, but there were tolerability issues with the drug. There were several basic science presentations related to remyelination and repair. Treatments to achieve this are just going into studies in humans, and it will be a long while before we have something that we can use in practice.
The scientific presentation that I found most interesting was by Dr. Saligrama. He has been working on ways to identify the T cells that are causing the damage in MS and to identify what they are targeting. In particular, he is looking for the targets that the CD8 T cells, which can kill other cells, are attacking. The method for doing this is quite complicated, but I think could end up giving important insights into what goes wrong with the immune system in MS.