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Issue: #14February 2013

MSResearchUpdateMS Research Update


Two new medications for MS have been in the news of late:


Tecfidera (BG-12) is pending FDA decision on March 27, 2013. This oral twice daily treatment for multiple sclerosis has been demonstrated to drop relapses by 53 percent in the  DEFINE trial.  In addition, Tecfidera reduced the likelihood of disability worsening by 38 percent compared to placebo. The impact was robust on MRI with 90 percent less new contrast activity. New or enlarging T2 areas on MRI were reduced by 85 percent. Common side effects include flushing, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea which generally improve after one month. High blood liver tests and low white blood counts were also noted in the trial.


In the  CONFIRM trial, the twice a day dose of Tecfidera lowered relapses by 44 percent compared to placebo.  In a comparison group of patients in the trial, Copaxone reduced relapses by 29 percent.  Tecfidera is an oral formulation of dimethyl fumurate,  which has been shown to reduce inflammation and protect cells in experimental research.  Dimethyl fumarate is a component of the drug Fumaderm, used to treat psoriasis in Germany.

(alemtuzumab) was accepted in late January 2013 for review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Lemtrada is an  antibody that selectively targets CD52, a protein abundant on T and B cells. The medication works by reducing T and B cells thought to be responsible for the damaging inflammatory process in MS while minimally impacting other immune cells. The sharp anti-inflammatory effect of alemtuzumab is immediately followed by the onset of a unique pattern of T and B cell repopulation that continues over time, rebalancing the immune system in a way that could reduce MS disease activity. Genzyme, a Sanofi company and rights holder of the medication, expects FDA action on the application in the second half of 2013. 

MSCenterResearchMS Center Research


New study to learn how a parent's MS affects their children


The MS Center is participating in a national study of how MS affects children who have parents with the disease. Using an online survey, researchers will look how MS affects children's' daily lives, including its social, psychological and educational impacts as well as overall satisfaction with their life. In addition to data from the children, the study will use limited information about the parent's course with MS, and how it changes over time. The study aims to assess any gaps in the child's needs to help improve or potentially identify new programs and services needed to help parents and children cope with how MS affects their lives.


Learn more about our research and clinical trials, or call an MS Center research coordinator at 206-320-2200.

NewCenterOpenJoin the S'myelin Striders


Each year, the MS Center participates in Walk MS, a National MS Society event to support local programs and research critical to the large community of people living with and affected by MS in our area. The Swedish S'myelin Striders invite everyone affected by MS--patients, friends, family, neighbors--to join us for a fun, active day in support of the MS community. Save the date for April 14, 2013 at 9 a.m. to Walk MS with us.


Every walker who joins the S'myelin Striders by March 15 will be entered in a prize drawing. Participants who raise $100 or more will receive an official Walk MS event t-shirt. There is no cost to join and no minimum to fundraise. In 2012, Swedish's Walk MS teams in Seattle and Issaquah raised more than $10,000. This year, we hope you'll join us to meet our goal together.


Every step matters.  Every dollar counts.  Every person makes a difference. Visit our team page or call 206-320-2200.


DrQianMS Center News


Now Offering Adaptive Yoga for MS




The MS Center at Swedish offers free aerobics classes to the MS community for the joy of movement and music. In contrast to the typical dance-like moves that might come to mind when you think of aerobics, the exercises in Aerobics for MS are designed to increase strength and mobility for functional movements used in everyday life. Most of all, they're meant to be fun! Classes take place in a supportive and relaxed environment, and all abilities are invited.

Read more about aerobics from the instructor, Bobbie Severson, ARNP. To register for aerobics or another MS fitness class, please call 206-386-2502 or register online.  

MSNewsMS News Digest


Male sex hormone therapy may repair myelin damage

A study of male sex hormone receptors found that testosterone treatments may hold promise for myelin repair in people with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). Men are less likely to develop MS, and when they do, they tend to have a more severe course of the disease. Researchers wanted to learn what role male sex hormone receptors may play in myelin repair. They gathered data from mice implanted with one of three different male sex hormones. Findings showed targeting androgen receptors, specifically, with one of the hormones--testosterone--could reverse chronic demyelination as well as reduce neuroinflammation, which can signal an MS "attack". The study could support the development of future therapies that target these receptors to promote myelin repair.

Read the abstract.


Diuretic for hypertension could slow primary progressive MS

A pilot study of a medication used to treat high blood pressure found it may also have neuroprotective effects in people with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). Researchers experimented with treating a small group of patients with amiloride, a potassium-sparing diuretic available for high blood pressure and heart failure. Earlier experiments showed the medication could protect the brain and myelin, but it had not been studied in MS. Results showed amiloride could significantly reduce the rate of brain degeneration, which could support future trials to slow the course of PPMS.

Read the abstract.


Researchers consider whether genetic on/off switches could cause MS

A review article published in The Lancet
considers environmental factors that could change gene expressions over time and increase risks for multiple sclerosis. The article explores whether factors such as diet, smoking, exercise and medications could turn on and off genes and pass them to future generations. A mix of these epigenetic factors, the authors propose, could change the onset of MS or disease course. Further research is needed to look more closely at how environmental factors affect MS and how a person responds to treatment.

MSEventsMS Center Programs & Events


To register for a class, please call 206-386-2502 or click here to register online (unless noted).  


Patient Exercise Hours

Mondays, 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | MS Center

A free, convenient and safe way to work out with MS. Please call to sign up.    


Music Therapy
Thursdays, Jan. 10 - Mar. 7 | 2:30-3:30 p.m. | MS Center

Free and open to non-Swedish patients and caregivers/partners. 

Aerobics for MS with Bobbie Severson, ARNP

Wednesdays, Jan. 30-Mar. 20 | 1-1:45 p.m. | MS Center

Beginners aerobic exercises to improve function and motion. Free! Call to register.


Chair Aerobics with Bobbie Severson, ARNP

Wednesdays, Jan. 3-Mar. 20 | 2-2:45 p.m. | MS Center

Aerobic activity for those who prefer seated exercise. Free! Call to register.


Beginner's Gentle Yoga 

Thursdays, Feb. 28-Apr. 4 | 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | MS Center

Free for new students and open to non-Swedish patients and caregivers/partners. Call to register.


Stretch & Strengthen Yoga

Thursdays, Feb. 28-April 4 | 5:30 - 7 p.m. | MS Center

A more vigorous yoga workout for people living with MS. Requires ability to transition between standing and the floor without assistance. Open to non-Swedish patients. $12/class or $60/series. Call to register.


Social Security and Disability Workshop

March 21, 2013 | 6:15-8:30 p.m. | SECC at Swedish Cherry Hill

Learn about SSDI, when to apply and how to strengthen your application. Free. Call Alan Wittenberg, MSW, RC, 206-320-3830.


Coping Skills Group

Thursdays, 8 consecutive weeks | MS Center 

Led by MS psychologist Michelle Toshima, Ph.D., and Bobbie Severson, ARNP. Call Mike Taylor, PCC, 206-320-8223.