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Hormone Therapy May Help MS Patients

Chronic treatment with ACTH reduces relapse rates (Mar. 10)

The results from a new study suggest that treatment with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) may be beneficial for patients whose multiple sclerosis (MS) is not well-controlled through their regular therapy. The study findings are scheduled to be presented at the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), which will be held March 16 to 23 in San Diego, California.

The study involved 23 patients with MS who were taking beta-interferon treatment and had at least one relapse or brain scan showing new disease activity within the previous year. The patients were considered to have “breakthrough” MS, which means that their treatment stopped being effective, leading to worsening disability and more frequent relapses, as well as increased evidence of disease activity on brain scans.

The patients were given either ACTH or methylprednisolone as pulse therapy monthly in addition to their regular treatment for 1 year. The participants were tested every 2 months for 15 months. Over that period, those receiving ACTH had 0.08 cumulative relapses per patient compared with 0.8 relapses per patient for those receiving methylprednisolone. Patients taking ACTH also had no cases of psychiatric side effects, while those taking methylprednisolone had a cumulative number of 0.55 psychiatric episodes per patient.

“These results are of interest because few treatments are available for people with breakthrough MS,” said study author Regina Berkovich, MD, PhD. “Further studies, including randomized controlled trials, are needed to validate these preliminary findings, but the results suggest a potential benefit of ACTH pulse therapy in breakthrough MS.”

While ACTH has been approved for use in MS relapses for many years, its cost has limited its use to patients who need an alternative to corticosteroids.

ACTH is not FDA-approved for use as a chronic treatment for MS.

Source: AAN; March 10, 2011.

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