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Symposium at ECTRIMS 2015 – Introduction

David Bates


The satellite symposium was sponsored by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

According to Professor Bates, many treatment options are now available for multiple sclerosis, but with varying benefit-risk profiles, fuelling further demand for new therapeutics. We also need more information about the therapies we have today.

Research helps us to understand disease pathologies and identify new therapies. The Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation continues to fund independent projects (funded by Merck Serono):

Dr. Bruno Stankoff: Indexing neurodegeneration in early MS with [18F]flumazenil positron emission tomography.

Dr. Maria Domercq and Carlos Matute: Re-educating microglia by P2X4 receptor manipulation as an alternative therapy in MS

Dr. Robert Axtell: Investigating the role of B cell activating factor and APRIL (a proliferation inducing ligand) in neuro-inflammation

Dr. Sue Metcalfe: Leukaemia inhibitory factor nanotherapy to promote self-tolerance and myelin repair in MS

Dr. Margarita Dominguez-Villar: Molecular mechanisms underlying T-cell dysfunction in MS.

For clinicians the challenge is to address the immediate needs of their patients while considering the long-term safety and efficacy of the treatment.

Professor Bates asked the participants which of the following efficacy parameters they considered to  be most important:

  1. Relapse rate
  2. Long-term disability progression
  3. MRI outcomes
  4. Real world long-term data

3/4 participants voted for long-term disability progression. Many people voted for 4, although the data are lacking. No-one advocated relapse rate or MRI outcomes.

Professor Bates also asked the participants how well they rated current efficacy parameters:  

  1. They are sufficient
  2. They are informative but not fully applicable in the clinical setting
  3. We do not have adequate outcome measures - new endpoints and markers are needed.

No-one supported answer 1. 40% of participants supported answer 2, and the rest answer 3. 

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