Chris: When will there be a disease modifying treatment for primary progressive multiple sclerosis?
Professor Alan Thompson, Neurologist: Well, that’s a difficult question. It’s also the million dollar question, but it’s also probably one of the most important questions to answer. So I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that there’s a huge amount of work going on in the area and the whole focus of MS research now is on that area of progressive MS. And we’re starting to see some results from that, so the profile has risen, the funding has increased and we’re seeing some studies that give an indication that we might be able to do something about progression. And I’m thinking about studies like the statin trial, for example, and even some of the neuro-protective agents. So it’s challenging because trying to treat progression means you’ve got to look at neuroprotection and repair, not just at suppressing inflammation, that’s much more challenging across all of neuroscience, but there is some progress. So if I was to try and gauge it from now, I think I would be really disappointed if we didn’t have some major trials, phase three trials in this area, within the next five years.
Chris: Right, cool. Thank you.
Professor Alan Thompson: A pleasure.
Chris: On a related thing, it was in the news recently that some doctors found a link between the immune system and brain function and it seems like, wow, it’s completely changed the – what’s the word I want? Yeah, changed the landscape for neuroprotective ailments and things. Is it complete hoo-ha or is it…
Professor Alan Thompson: Well, I’m not completely sure about the item you’re referring to, there’s been a lot going on. But I mean I think one of the interesting things is that some studies of drugs that we are already using, say drugs for epilepsy, are definitely showing an effect in MS. So there was Raj Kapoor’s trial presented at the American Academy just last… well, April, which looked at phenytoin, a drug we’ve had for 30 years for epilepsy. And we know that it does provide some neuroprotection because it works on sodium channels, so on conduction. And that showed a benefit in an acute model, okay, so an acute optic neuritis. So it did suggest that there are some new insights. So it doesn’t turn everything on its head, but it just provides some new insights, some new avenues that we could perhaps investigate further.
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