Welcome to “MS News Notes,” a column where I comment on multiple sclerosis (MS) news stories that caught my eye last week. Here’s a look at what’s been happening:
Vaccines pose no unusual risk of MS hospitalization, study says
It’s time for me to get my seasonal flu shot, as I’ve done for decades. This year, I’ll be adding the latest COVID-19 vaccine to my list, as well as a vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus.
The MS News Today story “No greater risk of hospitalization found after vaccines in MS in study” reports on a nationwide study in France involving over 100,000 people, that “found no association between vaccination and the risk of hospitalization due to MS flare-ups.”
Researchers studied seven categories of vaccines, including DTPPHi (diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, pertussis, and Haemophilus influenzae), hepatitis B, influenza, Pneumococcal, Meningococcus, and measles, mumps, and rubella. The last category was for other vaccines, specifically hepatitis A, tuberculosis, varicella, and varicella-zoster. COVID-19 vaccines were not part of the study.
“The only exception [to no increased risks] was the pneumococcal vaccine with a 90-day risk window, which was associated with a 1.6 times increased risk of MS relapses requiring hospitalization,” the story notes. Researchers called that a “small risk.” They added that “given the number of vaccine subtypes available, further studies are needed to confirm these results.”
The researchers noted that “immunization by vaccines of the entire population is crucially important for public health.”
I’ve never had a serious reaction to a vaccine, but I realize that some people shy away from them. This study adds evidence to my belief that, for most people, the benefits of most vaccines outweigh their risks.
Do you have migraines and MS? You’re not alone
I was surprised by what’s reported in the story “About 1 in 4 MS patients experience migraines: Review study.” I do a lot of scanning of what people are talking about in MS social media groups, and migraines is not a subject I see very often. Yet this study says people with MS are about twice as likely to have migraines as the general population.
Researching this further, I found a 2020 review study that said about 30% of people with MS suffer from migraines, which was higher than the 12% estimated prevalence in the general population.
Do you frequently have migraines? Did you have them prior to your MS diagnosis or after? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Developing eye-tracking technology to gauge MS progression
A technology called ETNA, for Eye Tracking Neurological Assessment, is being developed to better track MS progression. Details of this are reported in the story “Innodem, Novartis agree to continue developing eye-tracking technology.”
ETNA is an artificial intelligence application that tracks eye movements to measure disease severity and cognitive status in people with MS. It can run on a home tablet, and its designers say it could also allow a patient to be assessed in a neurologist’s waiting room before an appointment.
“We believe that remote self-testing could improve the efficiencies of the healthcare system and extend this capability to people living with MS residing in rural areas who cannot easily access a specialist,” said Marc Reeves, co-founder and chief business officer of Innodem Neurosciences, which signed a multiyear agreement with Novartis Canada to continue developing the digital biomarker eye-tracking technology.
ETNA hasn’t yet been approved by government regulators, but it has been granted breakthrough device designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which could help to speed up its development, review, and approval in the U.S. In Canada, the developers plan to launch a pilot project at up to 15 clinical sites aimed at gaining government approval and then commercialization.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.