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MS Treatment Options Growing, Raising New Hope, Loyola Neurologist Reports

'Rapid expansion' of medications for Multiple Scerlosis

MAYWOOD, Ill.  – After decades of research, multiple sclerosis patients are seeing a “rapid expansion” of effective new treatment options, according to a review article in the journal Neurologic Clinics.

Recently approved drugs, as well as medications being tested in clinical trials, appear to be more effective than the first generation of new drugs introduced in the 1990s. But the new medications also may present complex side effect profiles, according to the article’s author, Dr. Matthew McCoyd of Loyola University Medical Center. McCoyd is a neurologist who specializes in MS.

“Today, we stand on the precipice of a changing landscape in MS therapies,” McCoyd wrote. “Several new medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the United States, and several more are awaiting a final decision or are completing Phase 3 clinical trials. The question facing physicians, patients and families is not just a question of remedies, but how to navigate the increasingly complex effective treatment options for MS.”

The first effective drug (interferon beta-1B) for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS was approved in the early 1990s.

In recent years, several other effective new drugs have been approved, including fingolimod (Gilenya), teriflunomide (Aubagio) and BG-12 (Tecfidera). Side effects include cardiac and eye problems (fingolimod); diarrhea, nausea and hair thinning (teriflunomide); and flushing, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and respiratory tract infections (BG-12).

The criteria for diagnosing MS have been simplified and streamlined. This likely will increase the number of patients who will be diagnosed, or at least allow them to be diagnosed at a much earlier time.

Although a single cause of MS has not been identified, there is growing evidence that vitamin D deficiency plays a role. Vitamin D supplementation is a safe and potentially beneficial treatment. But there are fewer data to support other dietary supplements. Nor, contrary to some claims, is there convincing evidence that a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats, omega fatty acids and multivitamins has an impact on disease progression or relapse rate, McCoyd wrote.

McCoyd concludes: “There is no simple therapeutic answer for the treatment of MS, no one-size-fits-all remedy to this notoriously heterogeneous disease. Multiple considerations must be made and understood. However, it is now at least some comfort that patients and their physicians have a rapidly expanding number of options at their disposal.”

The article is titled “Update on Therapeutic Options for Multiple Sclerosis.”

McCoyd is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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