In case you missed it… a quick news roundup for the last week

27 Apr 2022

In the world of research around disease-modifying therapies for MS, the latest exciting research trial is 'Octopus', so named for its multiple arms. Funded by MS Society and led by Professors Jeremy Chataway and Max Parmar from University College London, Octopus will merge several trials into one seamless mega-trial to enable testing of several potential treatments simultaneously.

“Octopus really is truly innovative in that it will adapt to trial the very best emerging medications in progressive MS. Ultimately, it will lead to treatments for progression becoming available to people living with MS much sooner. This is a huge step-change compared to previous research.”

said Professor Jeremy Chataway

PKGs are going mainstream for people with Parkinson's. The NHS Transformation’s Digital Health Partnership Award is backing 40 companies supporting innovation in healthcare, of which Parkinson's Kinetigraphs are one. The NHS is investing half a million pounds so that every patient with Parkinson’s can be sent a PKG smart watch alongside some questions for non- motor issues every 6 months as a means of ongoing monitoring. The data gathered by the PKG over a 6 day period is relayed back to the patient's physician to support choices around medication management, therapies or lifestyle interventions to maximise people's quality of life.

The Epstein Barr virus and its link with MS has been pondered and researched over the past few years, and a new research study suggests it may be a causal factor. The longitudinal study published in Science, reviewed data from millions of US military recruits monitored over a 20-year period. Researchers Bjornevik et al. 'determined that Epstein-Barr virus infection greatly increased the risk of subsequent multiple sclerosis and that it preceded the development of disease.'

'It is very, very strong evidence that this virus is likely to be the cause of multiple sclerosis,'

Prof Gavin Giovannoni, told the BBC in this article.

An interesting read on prodromal disorders in Parkinson’s has been published in Movement Disorders. The research examined 1.5 million veterans with a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease for gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and skin disorders and found that all three 'manifest decades before diagnosis'.

A study published in Science Direct evaluating physical therapy practice in MS during the pandemic has reported on the changes experienced in this service. Findings include that 33% of physical therapists reported reduced or unavailable aerobic exercise for people with MS during the pandemic, although 15% reported using more meditation or relaxation techniques.

The evidence around the gut / brain / body connection continues to grow. This latest piece in Nature looking at the microbiomes of centenarians has found that those people apparently resistant to age-related illness have a distinct gut microbiome which contributes to intestinal homeostasis and supports healthy ageing.

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