Early detection of MS treatment complication may improve survival

The drug natalizumab is effective for treating multiple sclerosis (MS), but it increases the risk of a rare but potentially fatal brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). A study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013, suggests that early detection of PML may help improve survival and disability levels.

The study examined 319 people with MS who were treated with natalizumab and diagnosed with PML. Because of the risk of PML, people taking natalizumab are monitored by their physicians for possible of the . The study compared people who had symptoms of PML at the time of diagnosis to people who had no symptoms of the infection, but who were diagnosed with the disease by and tests in the spinal fluid for the virus that causes the infection. The level of disability for the people in the study was assessed before the PML diagnosis, at the time of diagnosis, and again six months and one year after the diagnosis.

A total of 21 people had no PML symptoms at the time of their diagnosis, while 298 people had symptoms. The preliminary data from the study suggest that people who have no symptoms at diagnosis may have improved survival and less disability than those who had developed symptoms prior to their diagnosis, according to study author Tuan Dong-Si, MD, a medical director with Biogen Idec in Weston, MA.

At the time of PML diagnosis, those people with no symptoms had an average score of 67 on the Karnofsky Performance Scale, which measures disability, while those people with symptoms had a score of 54. A Karnofsky score of 70 indicates that the individual may be able to care for him or herself, but may be unable to carry on normal activities or do active work. A Karnofsky score of 50 indicates that a person may require considerable assistance and frequent medical care. One year after PML diagnosis, the average Karnofsky score of those people with no symptoms at diagnosis was 70, compared to 47 for those with symptoms at diagnosis. Karnofsky scores of less than 50 indicate that the individual may be unable to care for him or herself and may require institutional care or the equivalent.

As of January 1, 2013, all of the 21 people (100 percent) with no symptoms at the time of PML diagnosis were living, compared to 77 percent of the people with symptoms at the time of . "These results suggest that the consequences of PML infection can be mitigated by of the disease," said Dong-Si.

is generally prescribed for people who have not responded to or cannot tolerate other treatments for MS.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

FDA clears safety test to screen Tysabri patients

Jan 20, 2012

(AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new diagnostic test to help identify patients who have an increased risk of developing a rare brain infection while taking Biogen Idec's multiple sclerosis drug ...

Obesity, other health problems delay MS diagnosis

Oct 29, 2008

People with pre-existing medical conditions, such as obesity, and vascular problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, may experience a delay in being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), or experience ...

Withdrawn MS drug returns to market

May 24, 2007

Just months after receiving FDA approval, natalizumab, a medication for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other inflammatory disorders, was voluntarily withdrawn by its manufacturers after three patients developed ...

Recommended for you

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears

2 hours ago

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate vote that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

22 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

22 hours ago

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

23 hours ago

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

Discovery of genes that predispose a severe form of COPD

Dec 19, 2014

A study by Ramcés Falfán-Valencia, researcher at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER), found that the mestizo Mexican population has a number of variations in certain genes that predispose ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.