Matt Hoffman, Senior Editor for NeurologyLive, has covered medical news for MJH Life Sciences, NeurologyLive’s parent company, since 2017. He hosts the NeurologyLive Mind Moments podcast, as well as Second Opinion on Medical World News. Follow him on Twitter @byMattHoffman or email him at email@example.com
NeurologyLive’s coverage of ACTRIMS Forum 2021 featured a number of insightful conversations with leading experts in multiple sclerosis care.
The Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2021, which ran virtually from February 25-27, featured a plethora of data presentations, including more than 300 posters and a wide variety of sessions, all focused on the central theme of the “The Spectrum of Multiple Sclerosis.”
As has been the case in years past, NeurologyLive provided coverage of these presentations straight from the conference floor, including the latest updates on therapies in clinical development, the assessment of clinical care strategies, the basic and translational science driving the understanding of MS pathogenesis, and the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on patients and physicians.
Here, we highlight some of those interviews that the NeurologyLive team conducted during the conference, covering topics ranging from the use of disease-modifying therapies in early disease, the progressive phase of MS, and novel therapeutic strategies to the data collected in the COViMS registry and the real-world measurement of fatigue.
To view any of the interviews, click the corresponding image.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) can affect patients in a number of ways, but how the disease presents can change drastically over the course of a patient’s life. This, in turn, affects the way in which physicians must approach its treatment. Many disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) used to treat relapsing-remitting MS are, as Benjamin Segal, MD, puts it, “rendered ineffective in large part” once a patient transitions to progressive MS.
The difference between these states of disease and the inner workings of this transition process was the chosen topic of this year’s Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2021, February 25-27, by Segal, who is the chair of the Department of Neurology and the director of the Neuroscience Research Institute at The Ohio State University. He additionally discussed how these differences relate to the current state of treatment for MS.
To find out more about the talk and why he chose to focus on this topic, NeurologyLive spoke with Segal in an interview. He offered his perspective on this transition from relapsing-remitting to progressive disease, and how this ultimately impacts treatment.
At the ACTRIMS Forum 2021, February 25-27, Janssen Pharmaceutical presented 2 abstracts that focused on the impact of fatigue symptoms in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS). The first of the 2 measured the symptoms using the RMS-specific Fatigue Symptoms and Impacts Questionnaire-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (FSIQ-RMS) in a real-world population study that included 300 patients with RMS.1,2
The second study evaluated the impact these symptoms have on work productivity and activity impairment using longitudinal data from the phase 3 OPTIMUM study (NCT02425644). Both studies highlighted the burden that fatigue has among patients with MS and how it can influence a patient’s daily functioning and life. Additionally, they both echo the need to construct disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) to treat this symptom, an area that currently has no specific treatment options available.
In the midst of this year’s virtual meeting, Allitia DiBernardo, MD, global head of medical affairs, neurology, Janssen Pharmaceutical, sat down with NeurologyLive to discuss the 2 studies in detail and the significance of the findings.
A recent study presented at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2021, February 25-27, 2021, found an increasing trend of early prescription of disease-modifying therapy (DMT) in patients with radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) as compared to previously reported literature.
The study was presented by Ilena George, MD, neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital. George and colleagues found that the DMT-treated group had a mean age of 37.6 years at diagnosis, younger than the mean age of 44.1 years in the untreated group (P = .03). First-line DMTs included dimethyl fumarate (n = 7), glatiramer acetate (n = 5), teriflunomide (n = 4), ocrelizumab (n = 2) and fingolimod (n = 1). Second-line agents were initiated in 7 patients with RIS, 5 for DMT tolerability, and 2 for MRI activity.
NeurologyLive spoke with George to learn more about the study and its findings. She discussed how her team was surprised to find that a high number of patients with RIS were treated with DMTs.
Clene Nanomedicine recently presented 2 posters from the VISIONARY-MS and REPAIR-MS clinical trials of its investigational nanocatalyst agent, CNM-Au8, which suggest that the therapy can improve the levels of NAD+/NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) ratio and AT (adenosine triphosphate) levels, as well as scores on a number of MS Functional Composite subscales measuring visual acuity and neurological status.
The VISIONARY-MS interim data showed that the change in the 6-component composite z-score—which included the SDMT, LCLA in both eyes, 9HPT with both dominant and nondominant hands, and T25W—was significantly improved for those with EDSS 2.0 or higher compared to those with EDSS 1.0 or lower (P = .0005).2 The data were presented virtually at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2021, February 25-27, by Robert Glanzman, MD, FAAN, chief medical officer, Clene Nanomedicine.
To find out more about the data and what they imply for the clinical community as CNM-Au8 progresses in its clinical development, NeurologyLive caught up with Glanzman in an interview. He offered his insight into the data and his excitement about the novel therapeutic category this agent represents.
The COViMS (COVID-19 Infections in MS & Related Diseases) registry is a joint effort organized at the beginning of the pandemic to capture information on outcomes of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other central nervous system (CNS) demyelinating diseases (such as neuromyelitis optica or MOG antibody disease) who have COVID-19. The collaboration was between the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, National MS Society, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and has since collected data on over 2000 patients to this point.
Now, the United States is in a different state with the virus than it once was over a year ago, mainly due to the development of vaccines and use of PPE. Amber Salter, MPH, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics, Washington University in St. Louis, claims that large sample sizes such as those from COViMS could assist in understanding more about treatment with disease-modifying therapies play a role not only amid COVID-19, but on the effects from the vaccine as well.
In this interview with NeurologyLive, Salter discusses the advantages the registry offer the MS patient and physician community at this point in the pandemic and what she’s learned working with the COViMS registry.
At the ACTRIMS Forum 2021, February 25–27, Anne Kever, PhD, presented a study that included 107 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and found that diagnosis disclosure and concealment attitudes are related to anxiety and depression. Additionally, greater perceived emotional burden was associated with worse depression (r = .236; P <.05) and higher anxiety (r = .518; P <.001), while greater perceived negative consequences of disclosure were linked to worse depression (r = .433; P <.001) and higher anxiety (r = .518; P <.001) as well.
Kever, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University, claims that there is limited literature on the effects of diagnosis disclosure, as well as a standardized scale to understand its impact. In her presentation, she noted that these attitudes may contribute to functional variability and may represent a tractable treatment target for novel interventions.
To understand more about the origins of the study and the need to conduct future examinations, NeurologyLive sat down with Kever, who offered her perspective on the data and its implications for clinicians.
For a year now, medical organizations and societies around the world have been forced to shift to a virtual format for their annual meetings, adjusting from the normal ebbs and flows on the exhibit hall floors to an all-digital, on-demand style. For the major multiple sclerosis (MS) groups like the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) and its Forum 2021, this was no different.
This year’s meeting ran from February 25-27, with a theme focused on the spectrum of MS, and was granted a distinct advantage regarding its planning, as Jeffrey Cohen, MD, president, ACTRIMS, and director, Mellen Center for MS Treatment and Research, Cleveland Clinic, told NeurologyLive. Specifically, ACTRIMS had fortunately already in-part run a virtual meeting—the joint meeting with its European counterpart, ECTRIMS. Conversely, the 2020 meeting was one of the final in-person conferences of the year.
In this interview, Cohen offers his perspective on the forum in this new format. He shared his thoughts on the impact of missing the personal interactions that are so vital to the experience, such as hallway conversations and discussions over coffee, and how ACTRIMS tried to re-create those experiences. Additionally, he spoke to what he envisions the future of the ACTRIMS Forum to look like as future meetings take on a hybrid nature.