The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic dominated headlines for much of 2020, and most of the top 5 multiple sclerosis articles of this year discussed the effects of COVID-19 on patients with this disease. Others touched on physician and patient assessments of relapse and potential new treatments for neural damage.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic dominated headlines for much of 2020, and most of the top 5 multiple sclerosis (MS) articles of this year discussed the effects of COVID-19 on patients with this disease. Others touched on physician and patient assessments of relapse and potential new treatments for neural damage. Here are the top 5 MS articles of 2020.
5. Patients, Physicians Largely Agree on Presence of MS Relapse, Analysis Finds
With the voice of the patient becoming more prominent in decision-making, this analysis found that patients with MS and their neurologists overwhelmingly agreed on the presence and absence of relapses of the condition. Patients reported slightly more relapses than their clinicians, for an average of 0.55 vs 0.44 during follow-up, which could be due to them interpreting pseudo-relapses as true relapses. Still, the agreement seen between patients and physicians indicates that the patient’s perception of their disease state is important, especially given the lack of objective standard for assessing MS relapses.
4. No Link Between Use of DMT, COVID-19 Severity in Patients With MS, Study Finds
An analysis of patient registry data revealed that there was no association found between COVID-19 severity and patient receipt of disease-modifying therapy (DMT) for MS. In fact, more patients who had no DMT use had worse COVID-19 severity than those who did take a DMT. The authors did note a link between higher Expanded Disability Severity Scale score and higher risk of severe infection. They called for further studies with larger sample sizes across several countries to confirm the lack of association between DMT use and COVID-19 severity.
3. How Has COVID-19 Changed Multiple Sclerosis Care?
The COVID-19 crisis has necessitated a rethinking of care delivery across disease states, including MS, as June Halper, CEO of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, explained in this interview. Although the supply chain for DMTs was not interrupted, some patients have reported challenges with picking up their other drugs at local pharmacies, she explained. Telehealth has proven to be a valuable solution to keep patients at home when possible to avoid risk of infection, and virtual wellness solutions have kept patients connected through yoga programs and podcasts while they are at home.
2. Stem Cells Prove Effective in Treating MS Neural Damage
Although there is no cure for MS and the associated damage to myelin, clinical trial results indicate the safety and efficacy of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy in modulating immune responses, according to a review. Different types of MSCs exist and each have advantages; whereas human fetal-derived neural stem cells are the precursors of neuronal cells, stem cells sources like adipose tissue or umbilical cord are more easily extracted and do not pose any ethical dilemmas. The review concluded that the various MSC treatments result in “significant improvements in quality-of-life, neurologic disability, and functional scores” in patients with MS.
1. Ocrelizumab, Rituximab Linked With More Severe COVID-19 in Multiple Sclerosis
Results shared at the MSVirtual2020 meeting indicate that 2 anti-CD20 biologics are associated with higher likelihood of needing hospitalization, intubation, and intensive care unit admission among patients with MS who contract COVID-19. Ocrelizumab and rituximab were linked with higher frequencies of these 3 outcomes compared with all other DMTs and compared with natalizumab, but no associations were found between DMTs and death. The researchers called for further research that examines the effects of comorbidities, smoking, and body mass index on the relationship between MS therapies and COVID-19 outcomes.