The 66th American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting

Today marks the third day of the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Each year the meeting brings together over 10,000 neurologists, scientists, industry representatives, and physicians-in-training from around the world to present research findings, discuss ways to improve clinical care for people with neurological conditions, and interact with other professionals in the field.

Conferences like these are filled with scientific presentations, workshops, poster sessions, meetings, and networking events. They serve as unique opportunities for learning, collaboration, and access to the latest information on advancements in neurological research.

The first presentations on multiple sclerosis reported progress in clinical trials. For therapies already available in Canada, such as natalizumab (Tysabri®, Biogen Idec) and fingolimod (Gilenya®, Novartis), further analysis of previously collected clinical trial data as well as data from new trials observing additional outcomes such as disability and walking speed were discussed. In addition, efficacy and safety data for therapies which remain in pipeline such as the oral drug laquinimod, and peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy™, Biogen Idec) were presented yesterday. The highlights of these presentations will be summarized and posted online on the MS Society website after the meeting.

Also presented were a series of interesting talks on new therapeutic approaches for managing MS. With currently available therapies acting directly on the immune system, these and other newly conceived therapeutic strategies are impacting MS by exerting protective effects on brain tissue, stimulating myelin repair, and looking to other biological targets that may have been previously overlooked by researchers.

One study presented by Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl from UCLA evaluated estriol as a potential treatment for MS. Estriol is a hormone that is produced in females during pregnancy. The study was based on the observation that, during pregnancy, females with MS experience less relapse activity. Knowing that specific hormones are elevated during pregnancy, Dr. Voskuhl’s team launched a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial involving 164 volunteers with MS across 16 sites in the U.S. The volunteers were all being treated with glatiramer acetate (Copaxone®, Teva), a standard MS medication, and randomly assigned to two groups. The first group received estriol in addition to glatiramer acetate, and the second received a placebo treatment in addition to glatiramer acetate. After 12 months, researchers reported a 47% reduction in relapses in the group treated with estriol compared to the group treated with the placebo. Treatment with estriol also resulted in improvements in cognition and EDSS after two years. Treatment with estriol appeared to be safe with no adverse events noted. Read more about the study here.

Keep checking the blog for more updates on the conference and studies that will be presented throughout the week!

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