Australian-led research could help slow MS

The results of a global study led by Australian researchers could help slow the progress of multiple sclerosis by guiding treatment for patients in the early stages of the disease.

The researchers say they can now better identify patients at higher risk of developing severe disease thanks to the study, which examined the health outcomes of more than 2,000 patients diagnosed with MS from around the world, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The team, led by University of Melbourne and Melbourne hospital researchers, identified three clinical markers linked to a person’s chances of developing aggressive MS, which should enable earlier treatment with more intense drug therapies.

Until now it has been difficult for clinicians to predict how severe the disease would be until a patient developed disability, by which time it was too late, according to the researchers.

In related news, the results of the first clinical trial to test the potential benefits of hookworm as an MS treatment have also just been released.

The chemicals made by hookworms can dampen immune response, but the trial, published online on June 15 in JAMA Neurology, saw mixed results. Hookworm did not cause any decrease in the brain lesions associated with MS compared with patients who received a placebo, the authors said, but they did cause an increase in T regulatory cells.

The authors said a larger trial of longer duration and with higher doses may show a more pronounced effect.

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Sources: The Sydney Morning Herald & MedicalXpress


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