Public Release: 

Clinical trial launches to see whether vitamin D helps treat multiple sclerosis

The investigator-initiated study, funded by the National MS Society, tests whether supplements added to standard treatment can reduce disease activity

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

New York - Doctors at several centers across the U.S. are recruiting people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) to determine the effectiveness of high-dose vitamin D supplements for reducing MS disease activity. The vitamins would be added to standard therapy with glatiramer acetate (Copaxone®, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries). The study, funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is being led by Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Other cities with centers recruiting participants include Portland, St. Louis, and San Francisco, and additional centers are being established.

A number of genetic and environmental factors influence whether a person will get MS. These factors may also impact the severity of the disease. Mounting evidence has been pointing to a reduced level of vitamin D in the blood as a risk factor for developing MS. In lab mice, vitamin D can reduce the effects of EAE, an MS-like disease, and growing evidence suggests it is time to test whether vitamin D can provide benefits to people who have MS.

Investigators are seeking 172 clinical trial participants between the ages of 18 and 50, who have been diagnosed with the relapsing-remitting form of MS. More details on the enrollment criteria are available at: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01490502.

Participants will begin standard Copaxone treatment daily and will be randomly assigned to take the current recommended daily allowance of vitamin D or a high dose. The primary goal of the study is to determine whether vitamin D can reduce the proportion of people who experience a relapse. Other outcomes being studied include relapse rates, quality of life, brain tissue volume, disability progression, and safety.

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About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and over 2.1 million worldwide.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS. To fulfill this mission, the Society funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, collaborates with MS organizations around the world, and provides programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move forward with their lives. In 2011 alone, through its national office and 50-state network of chapters, the Society devoted $164 million to programs and services that assisted more than one million people. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested $40 million to support more than 325 new and ongoing research projects around the world. The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at www.nationalMSsociety.org.

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