Thursday, 29 June 2017

My drug is better than low hanging fruit. Rituximab better than CRAB

Spelman T, Frisell T, Piehl F, Hillert J.Comparative effectiveness of rituximab relative to IFN-β or glatiramer acetate in relapsing-remitting MS from the Swedish MS registry. Mult Scler. 2017 Jun 1:1352458517713668.

OBJECTIVE:To compare treatment effectiveness and persistence in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients who initiated rituximab versus glatiramer acetate (GA) or interferon-beta (IFN-β).
METHODS:A total of 461 patients from the Swedish MS registry in the rituximab arm were propensity score matched on a 1:2 basis with 922 patients from the IFN-β/GA comparator, between April 2005 and November 2015. Annualised relapse rate (ARR) was compared using the Poisson method. A marginal Cox model was used to analyse time to first relapse, 3-month confirmed disability progression and treatment discontinuation in the matched sample. A signed-rank test was used to compare Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) change from baseline.
RESULTS:Rituximab was associated with a reduction in ARR (0.003; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.001, 0.009) relative to IFN-β/GA (0.026; 95% CI = 0.020, 0.033) ( p < 0.001). Rituximab was associated with an 87% reduction in the relapse rate (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.13; 95% CI = 0.04, 0.41) and an 85% reduction in the discontinuation rate (HR = 0.15; 95% CI = 0.11, 0.20) relative to IFN-β/GA. EDSS regression from baseline was greater in the 

rituximab group at 12 and 24 months.
CONCLUSION:Rituximab appears to be superior to first-generation disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) with respect to relapse control and tolerability, whereas superiority on disability outcomes is less clear.



I tear my hair out when a DMT is tested against a placebo, meaning in this day and age it is oK to give someone nothing, when you have nearly twenty active treatments. 

The next worse thing is that you test your agent against placebo-plus. 

No disrespect to people taking beta interferon or copaxone as they are the Worlds most popular treatments, but we know their level of efficacy. It is not high and to test rituximab against beta interferon or copaxone is a non-contest. 

However it may lose if we look at the  side -effects  as the outcome as the CrAB drugs are well tolerated

We can do an off-label against a CRAB, but why not do rituximab against cladribine, ocrelizumab, or alemtuzumab and give the drug a run for its money.

The ethics committees/funders need to get some jajce (eggs)

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

#ClinicSpeak & #PoliticalSpeak: why should people with primary progressive MS be treated as 2nd-class citizens?

Will pwPPMS be forced to pay for ocrelizumab privately? #ClinicSpeak #PoliticalSpeak

My blog post yesterday regarding equitable access to healthcare and HSCT generated some lively discussion. One reader asked: 'Any idea when ocrelizumab will be available in Europe for PPMS? It isn't fair that the FDA has approved the drug and we are still waiting and losing brain'. Interestingly, I was asked the same question at the EAN meeting after one of my talks and one of the Roche delegates at the meeting was able to answer the question for me and said it will be available soon.

Even if it ocrelizumab gets licensed 'soon' there will still be many hurdles to get over before it can be used in clinical practice. In the UK it will need to go via NICE and then it has to be vetted by NHS England. I have major concerns that the cost-effective model that will be used for PPMS will not be the same as RRMS, where the comparator is current DMTs and the model is based on incremental costs. For PPMS ocrelizumab will be compared to best supportive care. I therefore anticipate ocrelizumab being available for PPMS in other countries and not the UK. The latter worries me even more; why should English patients be disadvantaged? This discussion also raises the possibility of the worst case scenario, i.e. the EMA deciding not to license ocrelizumab for PPMS. What will happen then? This will mean the the product will be on the market for RRMS and pwPPMS who can afford to pay for it; i.e. the wealthy will get ocrelizumab privately and those who can't afford to pay for it won't be treated. The latter already happens in the NHS with some of the high-cost cancer drugs that have not been NICE-approved. Most HCPs, patients and even politicians find this sort of healthcare inequity abhorrent. This is why the NHS and other socialist healthcare systems are meant to exist; to stop a healthcare lottery based on wealth. 



One of my patients with PPMS who was in the fingolimod PPMS trial has already said to me he can't wait any longer. He asked me about starting rituximab and paying for it privately. He had no idea of the cost of rituximab and so we are now having to explore the possibility of using off-label cladribine. The use of cladribine for the treatment of PPMS is not really backed-up with much data, is really a shot in the dark and is based on the scientific principle that suppressing inflammation will help. 

I have also recently become aware that Roche may be launching a compassionate early access programme for PPMS, which is something I will explore for him and other patients in a similar situation. 

What do you think we should do to make sure pwPPMS get access to ocrelizumab ASAP? Can you please complete the following survey to explore some ideas. If you have any suggestions please don't hesitate to contact me. 


CoI: multiple

Blocking NOGO to make nerves

Ineichen BV, Kapitza S, Bleul C, Good N, Plattner PS, Seyedsadr MS, Kaiser J, Schneider MP, Zörner B, Martin R, Linnebank M, Schwab ME.Nogo-A antibodies enhance axonal repair and remyelination in neuro-inflammatory and demyelinating pathology.
Acta Neuropathol. 2017 doi: 10.1007/s00401-017-1745-3


Two hallmarks of chronic multiple sclerosis lesions are the absence of significant spontaneous remyelination and primary as well as secondary neurodegeneration. Both characteristics may be influenced by the presence of inhibitory factors preventing myelin and neuronal repair. We investigated the potential of antibodies against Nogo-A, a well-known inhibitory protein for neuronal growth and plasticity, to enhance neuronal regeneration and remyelination in two animal models of multiple sclerosis. We induced a targeted experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) lesion in the dorsal funiculus of the cervical spinal cord of adult rats resulting in a large drop of skilled forelimb motor functions. We subsequently observed improved recovery of forelimb function after anti-Nogo-A treatment. Anterograde tracing of the corticospinal tract revealed enhanced axonal sprouting and arborisation within the spinal cord gray matter preferentially targeting pre-motor and motor spinal cord laminae on lesion level and above in the anti-Nogo-A-treated animals. An important additional effect of Nogo-A-neutralization was enhanced remyelination observed after lysolecithin-induced demyelination of spinal tracts. Whereas remyelinated fiber numbers in the lesion site were increased several fold, no effect of Nogo-A-inhibition was observed on oligodendrocyte precursor proliferation, migration, or differentiation. Enhancing remyelination and promoting axonal regeneration and plasticity represent important unmet medical needs in multiple sclerosis. Anti-Nogo-A antibodies hold promise as a potential new therapy for multiple sclerosis, in particular during the chronic phase of the disease when neurodegeneration and remyelination failure determine disability evolution

You may have heard of LINGO-1 which is the target for remyelination that has been tried in MS by Biogen. This is related to NOGO (it was a no go signal, i.e. stop signal for nerve grow in the central nervous system). Block it and nerves grow). NOGO is also known as reticulon 4

NOGO variants are derived both from differential splicing and differential promoter usage and encoding different isoforms have been identified. There are three variants: Nogo A, B and C. Nogo-A has two known inhibitory bits including amino-Nogo, at the beginning of the molecule and Nogo-66, which makes up the molecules extracellular loop. Both amino-Nogo and Nogo-66 are involved in inhibitory responses, where amino-Nogo is a strong inhibitor of neurite outgrowth, and Nogo-66 is involved in  destruction of  the growth cone from where nerves grow.

LINGO-1 is a co-receptor that interacts with the ligand-binding Nogo-66 receptor (NogoR) in the Nogo receptor signaling complex.The Nogo receptor complex is formed when Nogo-66 binds to its receptor. LINGO-1 is an essential negative regulator of myelination. It has been implicated in the inhibition of axon regeneration through a ternary complex formed with NgR1/Nogo-66 (ligand-binding subunit) and p75 (signal transducing subunit). NgR1 relies on its co-receptors for transmembrane signalling.The three major myelin-associated inhibitory factors are Nogo, oligodendrocyte myelin glycoprotein, and myelin-associated glycoprotein which all share this receptor complex. 
The inhibitory action is achieved through RhoA-GTP upregulation in response to the presence of MOG, MAG or Nogo-66 in the central nervous system. LINGO-1 also inhibits oligodendrocyte precursor differentiation and myelination, by a mechanism that also involves activation of RhoA, but which apparently does not require p75 or NgR1.

This paper reports that if you block NOGO-A it can have two effects it supports a nerve sprouting effect and it can speed up remyelination. This is great 

However now to burst the bubble abit. "Anti-Nogo-A antibodies hold promise as a potential new therapy for multiple sclerosis".

This study shows what I was saying on saturday about trials in progressive MS. It says that if you do not have a trial system that can detect change than it doesn't matter what your drug does, it won't work.

The suggestion that blocking NOGO is new is not true. It was thought about long before anti-LINGO was thought about as NOGO was discovered first,


Karnezis T, Mandemakers W, McQualter JL, Zheng B, Ho PP, Jordan KA, Murray BM, Barres B, Tessier-Lavigne M, Bernard CC. The neurite outgrowth inhibitor Nogo A is involved in autoimmune-mediated demyelination. Nat Neurosci. 2004;7(7):736-44. 

This paper intimates that blockade of NOGO-A can affect the disease course of EAE, we looked at this in EAE in ABH over a decade ago and it did absolutely nothing...why would it the disease episode in EAE has little to do with nerve loss or demyelination it is inflammatory. 

(Why did we not publish this? it was company sponsored and one experiment does not make a paper). 

Anyway, others also eventually reported it was not much or an immune modulator.

Litwak SA, Payne NL, Campanale N, Ozturk E, Lee JY, Petratos S, Siatskas C, Bakhuraysah M, Bernard CC. Nogo-receptor 1 deficiency has no influence on immune cell repertoire or function during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. PLoS One. 2013;8(12):e82101

So back to the current paper the authors are spinal injury people and so they do their work to show sprouting and so the trial is fit for purpose but if you do EAE a 2-3 week EAE experiment you are looking at three things at once where the immune arm dominates so it is not the right stage of the model to look for repair. So bad trial  design means drug fails.

Away use in spinal injury would be system to test this out. Where is anti-NOGO in development?

Now the real problem anti-LINGO shows us that 99.9% of your drug never gets to the target meaning you load up you subjects with loads of protein, meaning placebo of nothing is flawed. You need a chemical not an antibody.

If blocking the NOGO receptor is going to work wonders, why did this not occur in the anti-LINGO trials in MS? This is because anti-LINGO works on the same cascade and also promotes sprouting in animal models. So let's be realistic. Will anti-NOGO get developed in MS, I think the patent life must be about dead and companies would have done it years ago it they thought it was a winner.

The NOGO system was evolved because it was advantageous not to regrow nerves in the central nervous system. What will be the consequences of blocking the biology? 

I guess you will not have to wait to find out nerve re-growth is being investigated.....but that's another story 

#NewsSpeak: do you want to make a difference?

Do you want to make a difference to world of MS? #NewsSpeak #OffLabel

One of our long running campaigns has been trying to promote access to treatments for pwMS in resource poor environments. For the last 2 years we have been promoting an Essential #OffLabel list of DMTs for resource poor settings. The MS International Federation (MSIF), who represents MS Societies from all over the world, are helping us with this campaign, for example they gave me a platform at their annual CEOs meeting last year to present our campaign.  

The MSIF are now trying to recruit a Head of Research and Access who will lead on the search for improved understanding and treatments for MS and better access to treatments and healthcare. This is global role. So if you are passionate about research, care deeply about MS and feel you have the skills then this may be the job for you. On the plus side it is based in central London; probably the most skilled-up, creative and dynamic city in the world. 


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Staggeringly profitable business of Science publishing

If you are interested in the publishing process you may want to read this. We have been telling you about the publication process and this article adds to the madness. 

Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science? by Stephen Buranyi CLICK Here


In addition to this, the Open access system has turned it all into a bottomless sink. Will it change....not whilst you have things like the REF and Impact factors driving people to publish in these journals. 

The journals have preyed on this so the high impact popular journals have all created open access pay to publish sister journals so when they reject papers they feed them into to the pay to publish journals. 

This has created an open access industry of tripe journals desperate for content......and your cash

Like the saps and Lemmings that we are we have bought into this.
However it is adding millions to the research budget that could be better spent eleswhere.

#EAN2017 & #ClinicSpeak: immune reconstitution therapies

Should access to healthcare, for example HSCT, be equitable? #EAN2017 #ClinicSpeak

As promised the following is my presentation from the Excemed MS Symposium held on Sunday night at the EAN in Amsterdam. I had feedback from several people about how appealing selective immune system depletion followed by reconstitution is as a a treatment strategy for MS. However, the efficacy of all of our licensed DMTs remain a long way off that of what is being reported with HSCT. 

Giovanni Mancardi gave a wonderful meta-analysis in the session on the result of AHSCT and how the safety profile has improved. The most recent mortality is less than 0.3%, i.e. less than 3 in a 1,000 treated patients. I am therefore not surprised that a lot of pwMS who are not concerned about the risks associated AHSCT are frustrated about the lack of access to it as a treatment option. I really hope the NIHR will fund a AHSCT trial in the UK. We need randomised controlled data for AHSCT to become routine; otherwise it will remain a lottery with some pwMS being able to access AHSCT whilst others not being able to access AHSCT. The latter brings up the ethical dilemma about whether of not access to healthcare should be equitable. 


CoI: multiple

Blood NFL as marker of no evidence of disease activity with fingolimod

Plasma neurofilament light chain levels in patients with MS switching from injectable therapies to fingolimod


Fredrik Piehl, Ingrid Kockum, Mohsen Khademi, Kaj Blennow, Jan Lycke, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Olsson

Multiple Sclerosis Journal, First Published 19 Jun 2017.doi: 10.1177/1352458517715132

Abstract

Background:
Neurofilament light chain (NFL) is a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) marker of neuroaxonal damage in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Objective:
To determine the correlation of NFL in CSF and serum/plasma, and in plasma after switching from injectable MS therapies to fingolimod.

Methods:
A first cohort consisted of MS patients (n = 39) and neurological disease controls (n = 27) where CSF and plasma/serum had been collected for diagnostic purposes. A second cohort (n = 243) consisted of patients from a post-marketing study of fingolimod. NFL was determined with Single Molecule Array (Simoa™) technology (detection threshold 1.95 pg/mL).

Results:
Mean NFL pg/mL (standard deviation (SD)) was 341 (267) and 1475 (2358) in CSF and 8.2 (3.58) and 17.0 (16.94) in serum from controls and MS, respectively. CSF/serum and plasma/serum levels were highly correlated (n = 66, rho = 0.672, p < 0.0001 and n = 16, rho = 0.684, p = 0.009, respectively). In patients starting fingolimod (n = 243), mean NFL pg/mL (SD) in plasma was reduced between baseline (20.4 (10.7)) and at 12 months (13.5 (7.3), p < 3 × 10−6), and levels remained stable at 24 months (13.2 (6.2)).

Conclusion:
NFL in serum and CSF are highly correlated and plasma NFL levels decrease after switching to highly effective MS therapy. Blood NFL measurement can be considered as a biomarker for MS therapy response.

Yesterday, I spoke at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Congress 2017 in Amsterdam about the utility of neurofilament analysis in neurological disorders. My point was to get across to the audience that neurofilaments as a biomarker was here to stay, but also to make it known that as far as MS management is concerned the goal post is shifting. We are looking to a future in which long-term remission (tantamount to a cure) is achievable, and not simply a woefully inadequate hype that recedes at the end of a conference. So how do the current biological fare in slowing down nerve loss?
I know of two therapies that have already demonstrated this; natalizumab (Tysabri) and fingolimod in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Here the authors present more work on fingolimod, but this time looking at blood neurofilament levels (serum/plasma). The question is whether we are able to substitute blood neurofilament measures effectively for CSF neurofilament measures?
When reading through this paper, a couple of things stand out: 1) the levels in the CSF are ~100-fold higher in the CSF than in the blood, whether it be in PwMS or in controls; 2) the relative ratio's of difference between PwMS and controls in the CSF and blood is ~4 and ~2, respectively based on mean results. In a nutshell, there is more room to detect real changes in neurofilament levels in the CSF than in blood. Well big deal you say, but it matters. Maybe not in a clinical trial with 100+ participants, but at an individual level. If I'm a clinician strongly considering using this test in practice, I'll want to know these relative numbers as I may be basing treatment decisions on these numbers. Interestingly, another group (Disanto et al. JNNP 2016; 87:126-129) previously reported a three fold difference between CIS subjects and controls in serum neurofilaments, but using a different platform (mesoscale, as opposed to Simova used in this study). Maybe a more sensitive method is not all that its cracked up to be?!
All is not lost, as far as swapping from interferons or copaxone to fingolimod there appears to be a significant drop in blood NfL levels at 12 months, which is sustained at 24 months (see figure below). Not all subjects demonstrated a reduction in NfL levels after switching to fingolimod, 49 demonstrated a rise in NFL levels. They tended to be older (see figure below) and had a higher age of onset of disease among other factors. 

There are a lot of archived samples sitting in freezers around the world from clinical trials, now may be the time to start analysing them...I say London is open!

Figure: (a) NfL levels in those switching from injectables to fingolimod sampled at time 0, 12 and 24 months. Mean NfL levels reduced by 34% at 12 months; (b) blood NfL levels correlate with age.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Questions for today's Symposium

ProfG is at the European Neurology Meeting in Amsterdam.

Today, there is a SANOFI GENZYME Satellite Symposium: From clinical data to real world experience – similar results, similar benefits for multiple sclerosis patients?

I guess MS CARE extension data will be presented. The message will be alemtuzumab is a very good drug.

The bad news will be that the proportion of people with secondary autoimmunities from the trials, about 20% will have dramatically increased to about 50%.

Here is the programme

Chairperson 
Rogier Q. Hintzen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Welcome and Introduction. Rogier Q. Hintzen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Mechanism of Action:New Insights into Immunomodulation
Luisa Klotz, , Germany

From Phase 3 controlled trials to extension trials: What do the data tell us? Celia Oreja-Guevara, Madrid, Spain

Daily practice: How does real world evidence reflect clinical data? Tjalf Ziemssen, Dresden, Germany (lead author of ECTRIMS abstract-2013 on binding and neutralizing antibody responses).

Q & A:Rogier Q. Hintzen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

We can see there is a Q & A session which is great. 

If you are there scratching you head seeking a question, maybe you can ask a few questions.

I wonder what are the new insights? Weren't they publish last week:-)? http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/2630681

What is the mechanism?
Wonder if memory B cells will get a mention? Give us a tweet.

If they don't here's a few questions for the Q&A.

Q. Why do you think MS is a CD4 Th17 T cell mediated disease given that treatments targeting CD4 T cells have typically failed in MS?

Q. Why do you think there is an increase in Treg T cells when their absolute numbers are decreased by over 80%?

Q. Why are you not associating Tregs influences as a major influence on B cell autoimmunities?

Q. Do you think memory B cells are involved in the action of alemtuzumab?

I will guess. Most people don't get a third course, few got 3 or fewer get 4 courses of drug. This indeed impressive.

I guess this is not mentioned that most people develop binding and neutralizing antibodies, which they must do given the levels at cycles one and two (about 80%).

Q. How many people develop binding and neutralizing antibodies on cycle 3 and cycle 4? 
Q. At 12 months after last infusion how many people have persistent anti-drug antibodies and do they affect depletion.

Q. What is the proportion of people who stop depleting or what is the proportion of people who only partially deplete? We already known at the population level there is depletion (Kousin-Ezewu et al. 2014) but at the individual level, are there people who neutralise the alemtuzumab response.
Q. If there are, what is the titre of neutralizing antibodies associated with lack of efficacy.
Q. Are their any non-depleters.
Q. Is there any difference in anaphylaxis/anaphylactoid reactions after third or forth infusion given that most people make binding antibodies and over 70% of people have persistent anti-drug antibodies. Does this relate to pre-existing titres of alemtuzumab binding antibodies?
I suspect if you ask these questions there may be some blank looks .
COI None relevant

More fingolimod rebounds

Forci B, Mariottini A, Mechi C, Massacesi L, Repice A. Disease reactivation following fingolimod withdrawal in multiple sclerosis: Two case reports. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2017 Jul;15:24-26.
BACKGROUND:
Severe multiple sclerosis reactivation following second line treatment withdrawal, defined "rebound syndrome", is becoming a prominent issue to consider when deciding to discontinue a treatment. In particular disease recurrence after cessation of fingolimod is actually poorly characterized as to date, only case reports and small case series have been described.
CASE PRESENTATION: We herewith describe 2 cases of severe disease reactivation associated to a high number of brain gadolinium enhancing lesions at magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) despite high dose steroid treatment, observed a few weeks after cessation of fingolimod administration, causing a substantial and persistent worsening of patient disability that required long term hospitalization. The severity of the neurological symptom worsening and of the brain lesion largely exceeded the disease activity observed during treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Our patients developed a rebound syndrome after ceasing fingolimod treatment, defined as the development of severe neurological symptoms and multiple new or enhancing lesions exceeding previous activity. Further analysis are needed to identify patients at greatest risk of a rebound syndrome.
When you start treatment you have to consider how you stop treatment if it is not working for you and importantly you need to think about how you transition from a migration inhibitor. These would be natalizumab and fingolimod. We have had a lot of discussion about switching off fingolimod but this is about fingolimod. This is yet another example of an attack shortly after stopping  fingolimod.  So it is important you discuss how disease activation is going to be minimized before you stop fingolimod

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Burden of Multiple Sclerosis

This study examines the cost of MS in different European Countries if you go East the amount spent on people with MS is lower. However you can see that the costs are not harmonised across Europe. 

In the UK the cost is low. Is this because of efficiency or are we near the bottom of the pile (yes you could add about 10-20%  to get a fairer view, because I used todays exchange rates).

Switzerland is out in front on the amount it spends

Multiple et al. New insights into the burden and costs of multiple sclerosis in Europe Mult Scler. 2017 Aug;23(2_suppl):4-216

BACKGROUND:To assess the value of management strategies in multiple sclerosis (MS), outcome data have to be combined with cost data. This requires that cost data be regularly updated.

OBJECTIVE AND METHODS: This study is a cross-sectional retrospective study in 16 countries collecting current data on resource consumption, work capacity and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Descriptive analyses are presented by level of severity; costs are estimated in the societal perspective, in 2015

A total of 208 patients (mean age: 38.5 years) participated in the Russian study; 97% were below retirement age, and of these, 49% were employed. MS was reported to affect productivity at work in 63% of patients. Overall, 87% and 41% of patients felt that fatigue and cognition were a problem. The mean utility and costs were 0.769 and 578,000 RUB at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.509 and 826,000 RUB (€12,407) at EDSS 4-6.5, and 0.071 and 1,013,000 RUB (€15,214) at EDSS 7-9. The average cost of a relapse was 33,000 RUB (€496) 

A total of 747 patients (mean age 47 years) participated in the Czech Republic; 86% were below retirement age and of these, 49% were employed. Employment was related to disease severity, and MS affected productivity at work for 82% of those working. Overall, 92% and 66% of patients experienced fatigue and cognitive difficulties as a problem. Mean utility and annual costs were 0.832 and 257,000CZK (€9,776) at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.530 and 425,500CZK (€16,183) at EDSS 4-6.5 and 0.141 and 489,000CZK (€18,606) at EDSS 7-9. The average cost of a relapse was estimated at 12,600CZK (€480)
A total of 521 patients (mean age 47 years) participated in Hungary; 85% were below retirement age, and of these, 47% were employed. Employment was related to disability and MS affected productivity at work for 82% of those working. Overall, 94% and 66% of patients experienced fatigue and cognitive difficulties as a problem, respectively. The mean utility and annual costs were 0.691 and 3,432,000HUF (€11,0680) at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.491 and 5,262,000HUF (€16,970) at EDSS 4-6.5 and 0.076 and 6,235,000HUF (€20,108) at EDSS 7-9, respectively. The average cost of a relapse was estimated at 240,500HUF (€776).


A total of 779 patients (mean age = 57 years) participated; 72% were below retirement age and of these, 36% were employed. Employment was related to disease severity, and MS affected productivity at work for 84% of patients. Overall, 96% and 72% of the patients experienced fatigue and cognition as a problem. Mean utility and annual costs were 0.735 and 11,400GBP (€12,949) at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) = 0-3, 0.534 and 22,700GBP (€25,785)at EDSS = 4-6.5, and 0.135 and 36,500GBP  (€41,460) at EDSS = 7-9. The mean cost of a relapse was estimated at 790GBP (€870).

A total of 411 MS patients (mean age = 40 years) participated in Poland; 94% were below retirement age, and of these, 59% were employed. Employment was related to disability, and MS affected productivity for 85% of those working. Overall, 97% and 71% of patients experienced fatigue and cognition as important problems, respectively. Mean utility and total annual costs were 0.686 and 48,700 PLN (€11,523) at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.521 and 59,200 PLN (€14,008) at EDSS 4-6.5 and 0.208 and 81,600 PLN (€19,308) at EDSS 7-9, respectively. The average cost of a relapse was 3,900 PLN.(€924)


A total of 462 patients (mean age 43 years) participated in Spain; 96% were below retirement age and of these, 45% were employed. Employment was related to disability, and MS affected productivity at work for 72% of those working. Overall, 92% and 64% of patients experienced fatigue and cognitive difficulties as a problem, respectively. Mean utility and total annual costs were estimated at 0.772 and €20,600 at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.486 and €48,500 at EDSS 4-6.5 and 0.182 and €68,700 at EDSS 7-9, respectively. The mean cost of a relapse was €2050.
A total of 491 patients (mean age 47 years) participated in France; 82% were below retirement age, and of these 56% were employed. Employment was related to disease severity, and MS affected productivity at work for 90% of patients. Overall, 95% and 67% of patients experienced fatigue and cognition as a problem, respectively. The mean utility and annual costs were 0.735 and €22,600 at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.500 and €38,100 at EDSS 4-6.5, and 0.337 and €48,100 at EDSS 7-9, respectively. The average cost of a relapse was estimated at €2300.

A total of 5475 patients (mean age 52 years) participated in Germany. In all, 84% were below retirement age, and of these, 51% were employed. Employment was related to disease severity, and MS affected productivity at work for 80% of patients. Overall, 96% and 78% of patients experienced fatigue and cognitive difficulties as a problem, respectively. The mean utility and total annual costs were 0.786 and 28,200€ at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.586 and €44,000 at EDSS 4-6.5 and 0.273 and €62,700 at EDSS 7-9, respectively. The mean cost of a relapse was estimated at €2500.
A total of 516 patients (mean age, 53 years) participated in Austria; 72% were below retirement age, and of these, 46% were employed. Employment was related to disability, and MS affected productivity at work for 77% of those working. Overall, 94% and 67% of patients experienced fatigue and cognition as a problem. Mean utility and total annual costs were 0.778 and 25,100€ at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.579 and 44,100€ at EDSS 4-6.5, and 0.244 and 73,800€ at EDSS 7-9. The mean cost of a relapse was estimated at 2563€

A total of 1010 patients (mean age = 45 years) participated in Italy. In total, 94% were below retirement age, and of these, 56% were employed. Employment was related to disability, and MS affected productivity at work in 77% of the patients. Overall, 96% and 65% of the patients experienced fatigue and cognitive difficulties as a problem, respectively. Mean utility and total annual costs were 0.735 and €22,900 at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) of 0-3, 0.534 and €40,100 at EDSS of 4-6.5, and 0.135 and €53,300 at EDSS of 7-9. The mean cost of a relapse was estimated to be €2600.
A total of 535 patients (mean age 48.5 years) participated in Portugal ; 92% were below retirement age and of these, 43% were employed. Employment was related to disease severity, and MS was felt to affect productivity at work by 72% of patients, most often through fatigue. Overall, 98% and 74% of patients felt that fatigue and cognition were a problem. Mean utility and costs were 0.756 and €16,500 at the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.572 and €28,700 at EDSS 4-6.5 and 0.206 and €34,400 at EDSS 7-9. The average cost of a relapse was estimated at €2930.
A total of 1856 patients (mean age: 54 years) participated in Belgium; 66% were below retirement age, and of these, 44% were employed. Employment was related to disease severity, and MS affected productivity at work in 85% of the patients. Overall, 95% and 72% of the patients experienced fatigue and cognitive difficulties, respectively, as a problem. Mean utility and annual costs were 0.703 and €26,400 at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.478 and €45,300 at EDSS 4-6.5, and 0.193 and €62,000 at EDSS 7-9. The mean cost of a relapse was estimated to be €3000.
A total of 382 patients (mean age: 54 years) participated in the Netherlands; 81% were below retirement age and of these, 31% were employed. Employment was inversely related to disease severity, and MS affected productivity at work for 82% of patients. Overall, 96% and 73% of patients experienced fatigue and cognitive difficulties, respectively, as a problem. Mean utility and annual costs were 0.744 and €23,100 at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.595 and €32,300 at EDSS 4-6.5, and 0.297 and €50,500 at EDSS 7-9. The mean cost of a relapse was estimated at €3000.
A total of 1864 patients (mean age 56 years) participated in Sweden; 74% were below retirement age, and of these, 55% were employed. MS was reported to affect productivity at work in 78% of patients. Overall, 94% and 72% of patients felt that fatigue and cognition were a problem, respectively. The mean utility and costs were 0.757 and 244,000SEK (€24953) at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.563 and 384,000SEK (€39,271) at EDSS 4-6.5 and 0.202 and 888,000SEK (€90,814) at EDSS 7-9, respectively. The average cost of a relapse was 36,900SEK (€3774).
A total of 721 patients (mean age 48 years) participated in Switzerland; 90% were below retirement age, and of these, 65% were employed. Employment was related to disease severity, and MS affected productivity at work for 69% of patients. Overall, 93% and 64% of patients experienced fatigue and cognition as a problem, respectively. The mean utility and annual costs were 0.799 and 29,600CHF (€27,272) at Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 0-3, 0.614 and 66,800CHF (€61,547) at EDSS 4-6.5 and 0.348 and 110,800CHF (€102,087) at EDSS 7-9, respectively. The mean cost of a relapse was estimated at 7,600CHF. (€7,002)

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The ProfG's need a kick up the backside. Publish trials

Stefaniak JD, Lam TCH, Sim NE, Al-Shahi Salman R, Breen DP. Discontinuation and non-publication of neurodegenerative disease trials: a cross-sectional analysis. Eur J Neurol. 2017. doi: 10.1111/ene.13336. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Trial discontinuation and non-publication represent major sources of research waste in clinical medicine. No previous studies have investigated non-dissemination bias in clinical trials of neurodegenerative diseases.
METHODS: ClinicalTrials.gov was searched for all randomized, interventional, phase II-IV trials that were registered between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2009 and included adults with Alzheimer's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease. Publications from these trials were identified by extensive online searching and contact with authors, and multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to identify characteristics associated with trial discontinuation and non-publication.
RESULTS: In all, 362 eligible trials were identified, of which 12% (42/362) were discontinued. 28% (91/320) of completed trials remained unpublished after 5 years. 


Trial discontinuation was independently associated with number of patients (P = 0.015; more likely in trials with ≤100 patients; odds ratio 2.65, 95% confidence interval 1.21-5.78) and phase of trial (P = 0.009; more likely in phase IV than phase III trials; odds ratio 3.90, 95% confidence interval 1.41-10.83). 

Trial non-publication was independently associated with blinding status (P = 0.005; more likely in single-blind than double-blind trials; odds ratio 5.63, 95% confidence interval 1.70-18.71), number of centres (P = 0.010; more likely in single-centre than multi-centre trials; odds ratio 2.49, 95% confidence interval 1.25-4.99), phase of trial (P = 0.041; more likely in phase II than phase IV trials; odds ratio 2.88, 95% confidence interval 1.04-7.93) and sponsor category (P = 0.001; more likely in industry-sponsored than university-sponsored trials; odds ratio 5.05, 95% confidence interval 1.87-13.63).
CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence of non-dissemination bias in randomized trials of interventions for neurodegenerative diseases. Associations with trial discontinuation and non-publication were similar to findings in other diseases. These biases may distort the therapeutic information available to inform clinical practice

Last week we reported a discontinued Cambridge trial, where the results have not been reported yet (Only at least 15 months from termination), we have mentioned the Ely Lilly Trial that has yet to be reported..

This paper has spotted that loads of  trials don't get finished and loads don't reported. I can see that recruiting for trials is a problem, the PROXIMUS is eighteen months late but now fully recruited, the Canbex trail is very late too but almost there

However before having a rant, you've said "kettle and black"...

You are right we have to hold our hands up and say yes we need to give ourselves a bit of a kick or should I say I need to give the Profs a good kicking 

We (you and I ) know, but the rest of the World don't... that the INSPIRE trial has expired, but a failure is no reason not to publish. 

I heard a "a negative trial can tell us as much as a positive trial"...rubbish....negative trials always leave us with two questions.

It may not always tell us about biology but it may tell us that we do some poorly designed or executed trials. If we aspire to negative trials we have lost before we start. 

I have said that many of our good ideas have been killed off because of bad trials. Not popular with the Neuros and Funders of the trials, but I will stick to my guns on this one. 

I have been saying until I am blue in the face, if you don't have a trial that can work, it doesn't matter which drug you try, it won't work. 

Until beta interferon came along we didn't know how to do relapsing trials not it is easy to work out if an agent is active of not. For progressive trials we are not sure if we are using good outcomes or maybe the trials aren't long enough. 

Our idea of cannabinoids controlling nerve loss is supported by more biology that you can shake a stick at, but the trial failed. 

Speaking to one of the investigators this week. 
They said, the placebo arm just did not progress as expected
(if you are in a trial you do better even if you are on placebo) , so if tyou don't get worse in the placebo arm how can you ever find a positive result of stopping people getting worse. 
It took 6 years to learn this lesson. 

Maybe if the trial was loaded with people who could respond and in people who may get worse if they don't get treated, then we would see something

If you have evidence that your disease is worsening in may be easier to get on to trials or to get access to drugs.

So are you monitoring? 

Do you have a 9 hole peg test, do you know your time for a 25m walk. Because to get into trials or to get access to drugs you may have to show that you have documented worsening

Anyway, we need to come clean, the ProfGs needs to put pen to paper, because until they do that we can't give anyone a roasting,

Oh I forgot ProfG the CLARITY extension is also only about 3 years late so still time:-)....Yeah I know the third reviewer;-)

We collect so many metrics, maybe the number of trials reported has to be a good one when deciding who is funded to do more trials. 

People are risking a lot to participate in the studies, they have a right to know what happened. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

July comes Early

I came across this clock many months ago ticking away in French and English after I stumbled on a Norwegian Website

I nearly made a post for April the first..... so July comes early



Maybe the name will be a grower, but cladding does not have a good reputation in the UK at the moment :-) Don't understand Click

Well done, Prof G, DrK & Merck.

The Tortoise gets there in the end. Will it beat the Hare?



#NewsSpeak: another eagle has landed only this time it is a maven

Oral cladribine finally gets licensed for the treatment of relapsing MS #NewsSpeak #MavenClad

I was invited to a meeting to advice Serono in 2002 whether, or not, they should in-license an oral formulation of cladribine. We advised yes and today the CHMP have recommended that the EU give Merck a marketing authorisation for oral cladribine. The process took 15 years. Who said MS drug development was fast? 

The oral formulation of cladribine, Mavenclad, is the first oral selective immune reconstitution therapy (SIRT)* for treating patients with active relapsing MS. 

*Please note SIRT is a new term to describe the class of drugs that work via immune depletion, which can be non-selective or selective, followed by immune reconstitution. 


CoI: multiple  

#NeuroSpeak: reclaiming MS as one disease

Redefining what is a relapse and making MS one disease? #1-disease-not-2-or-3-diseases #NeuroSpeak

I was reminded at a meeting last night why it is important to publish consensus statements. Barts-MS hosted a UK NEDA meeting in 2014. As a group of UK MSologists we reached a consensus that we would stop referring to new MRI activity as 'MRI activity' and start to refer to it as a 'subclinical relapse'. In other words we all agreed to change our working definition of a what constitutes a relapse. This is not new. I was involved in another consensus meeting in 2010, held by the CMSC, during which we came to the same conclusion and published our recommendations in 2013. The problem is we didn't publish our meetings conclusions. I will now harass the chair of the meeting to get typing. 

We also did a survey on this topic in 2014 and you the community who read this blog agreed with us. 



Changing the definition of what constitutes a relapse has implications for how we use DMTs in clinical practice and challenges the older NICE guidance on not being able to escalate DMTs on MRI criteria alone. To escalate from a platform, or a 1st-line, DMT you need to have clinical attacks. However, the newer NICE guidance allows alemtuzumab to be prescribed to pwMS with active MS defined either clinically or on MRI and to retreat on MRI activity . The latest guidelines therefore recognise that clinical attacks and MRI activity mean the same thing biologically; i.e. that MS is active. This position statement is also in keeping with the new 2013 Lublin criteria of classifying MS disease activity. 

One of the consequences of this change is that pwPPMS who have active scans will be reclassified as having relapsing MS. This is not a bad thing because it starts to bring MS back under one umbrella. This also become less relevant with the emergence of effective DMTs for PPMS. Ocrelizumab now has a US label for relapsing forms of MS and PPMS. Is there a population of people with MS that is not covered by this label? Yes, patients with inactive MS defined clinically and on MRI. The latter is disease course agnostic. 

All this supports our campaign that MS #1-disease-not-2-or-3-diseases.

Cook et al. Use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging as Well as Clinical Disease Activity in the Clinical Classification of Multiple Sclerosis and Assessment of Its Course: A Report from an International CMSC Consensus Conference, March 5-7, 2010. Int J MS Care. 2012 Fall;14(3):105-14.

It has recently been suggested that the Lublin-Reingold clinical classification of multiple sclerosis (MS) be modified to include the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An international consensus conference sponsored by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) was held from March 5 to 7, 2010, to review the available evidence on the need for such modification of the Lublin-Reingold criteria and whether the addition of MRI or other biomarkers might lead to a better understanding of MS pathophysiology and disease course over time. The conference participants concluded that evidence of new MRI gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) T1-weighted lesions and unequivocally new or enlarging T2-weighted lesions (subclinical activity, subclinical relapses) should be added to the clinical classification of MS in distinguishing relapsing inflammatory from progressive forms of the disease. The consensus was that these changes to the classification system would provide more rigorous definitions and categorization of MS course, leading to better insights as to the evolution and treatment of MS.

Lublin et al. Defining the clinical course of multiple sclerosis: the 2013 revisions. Neurology. 2014 Jul 15;83(3):278-86.

Accurate clinical course descriptions (phenotypes) of multiple sclerosis (MS) are important for communication, prognostication, design and recruitment of clinical trials, and treatment decision-making. Standardized descriptions published in 1996 based on a survey of international MS experts provided purely clinical phenotypes based on data and consensus at that time, but imaging and biological correlates were lacking. Increased understanding of MS and its pathology, coupled with general concern that the original descriptors may not adequately reflect more recently identified clinical aspects of the disease, prompted a re-examination of MS disease phenotypes by the International Advisory Committee on Clinical Trials of MS. While imaging and biological markers that might provide objective criteria for separating clinical phenotypes are lacking, we propose refined descriptors that include consideration of disease activity (based on clinical relapse rate and imaging findings) and disease progression. Strategies for future research to better define phenotypes are also outlined.

You can be EBV negative and still have MS

Some one asked if we were too embarrassed to discuss the paper below. ProfG argues that EBV is the cause of multiple sclerosis, so EBV negative individuals would burst the bubble

Dobson R, Kuhle J, Middeldorp J, Giovannoni G. Epstein-Barr-negative MS: a true phenomenon? Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2017;4(2):e318. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is associated with MS; up to 3.3% people with MS are EBV nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA1)-seronegative compared with 6.0% controls. EBV serology is complex, and multiple antigens are required to assess seropositive status.We examined a cohort of seemingly EBV-negative patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). The size of the population enrolled in the International CIS study allowed us to examine the largest population of seemingly EBV-negative patients with CIS gathered to date.

Yesterday someone mentioned this paper and implied we were frightened to bring it up.

There are EBV negative pwMS. Does this mean the idea is wrong. 

In fact only 1 of 1,047 pwMS (<0.01%) was truly EBV-negative. Those that were negative were more likely to not make oligoclonal bands.

I haven't seen ProfG crying in his soup, so I am guessing that he can live with the occasional negative pwMS.

Detection is only as good as you look, they tried a few ways but didn't succeed to detect EBV in everyone

JC virus causes PML so if you are JC virus negative and taking natalizumab. Why is the risk of PML 1 in 10,000 and not never?

One suggestion is EBV is a transactivator and it make HERV (endogenous retro virus) to become active as the target. We all have HERV its 7% of our genome.


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Myelin Autoimmunity in T cells. Time to say schtop!. MS lesions are EBV killing zones

van Nierop GP, van Luijn MM, Michels SS, Melief MJ, Janssen M, Langerak AW, Ouwendijk WJD, Hintzen RQ, Verjans GMGM. Phenotypic and functional characterization of T cells in white matter lesions of multiple sclerosis patients.  Acta Neuropathol. 2017 doi: 10.1007/s00401-017-1744-4. [Epub ahead of print]

T cells are considered pivotal in the pathology of multiple sclerosis (MS), but their function and antigen specificity are unknown. To unravel the role of T cells in MS pathology, we performed a comprehensive analysis on T cells recovered from paired blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) and white matter lesions (WM L) from 27 MS patients with advanced disease shortly after death. The differentiation status of T cells in these compartments was determined by ex vivo flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry.

T-cell reactivity in short-term T-cell lines (TCL), generated by non-specific stimulation of T cells recovered from the same compartments, was determined by intracellular cytokine flow cytometry. Central memory T cells predominated in CSF and effector memory T cells were enriched in NAWM and WM Lesion. WM Lesion-derived CD8+ T cells represent chronically activated T cells expressing a cytotoxic effector phenotype (CD95L and granzyme B) indicative for local antigenic stimulation (CD137). The same lesions also contained higher CD8+ T-cell frequencies expressing co-inhibitory (TIM3 and PD1) and co-stimulatory (ICOS) T-cell receptors, yet no evidence for T-cell senescence (CD57) was observed.

The oligoclonal T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire, particularly among CD8+ T cells, correlated between TCL generated from anatomically separated WM Lesions of the same MS patient, but not between paired NAWM and WM Lesion. Whereas no substantial T-cell reactivity was detected towards seven candidate human MS-associated autoantigens (cMSAg), brisk CD8+ T-cell reactivity was detected in multiple WM Lesions-derived TCL towards autologous Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infected B cells (autoBLCL).

Collectively, the data suggest the involvement of effector memory cytotoxic T cells recognizing antigens expressed by autoBLCL, but not the assayed human cMSAg, in WML of MS patients.



What does this study suggest? 

Advanced Disease is associated with active inflammatory lesions, so maybe not too late for a DMT.

Is it time for the card-carrying  CD4 T cell immunologists to pack up their bags and work on a different condition.

Is it time to say no more CD4, Th17 immunology in lab mice.

There is no autoimmunity to myelin basic protein or myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein, Kir 4.1 (potassium channel)

Cells in active lesions recognized Epstein Barr Virus, cells in normal appearing white matter did not.

You don't want your therapeutic drug to increase CD45RO, CCR7- effector memory cells..

The data suggests that CD8 T cells cause the active lesions or are associated with the active lesions and they are killing EBV infected B cells.

How does this fit with the B memory cell idea. It fits perfectly. 
If you get rid of the B memory cells you get rid of the EBV, so nothing to get the CD8 T cells going. It may suggest that blocking CD8 would stop the attack, but it wouldn't remove the problem.

This supports the approach developed by Prof Pender in Oz...
What ever happened to ProfGs hope to be involved with this?

Why MS?

It maybe has something to do with the formation of the B cell follicles creating a steady stream of CNS B cells ripe for attack, if you get follicles in the joint you get arthritis.

However do we find T cell reactivity to EBV because we are looking for reactivity to EBV

Nice study from our mates in the Netherlands