The Lancet Neurology

Published by Elsevier
Print ISSN: 1474-4422
Publications
Abnormal intracellular protein aggregates comprise a key characteristic in most neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The seminal discoveries of accumulation of TDP-43 in most cases of ALS and the most frequent form of FTD, frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions, followed by identification of FUS as the novel pathological protein in a small subset of patients with ALS and various FTD subtypes provide clear evidence that these disorders are related. The creation of a novel molecular classification of ALS and FTD based on the identity of the predominant protein abnormality has, therefore, been possible. The striking functional and structural similarities of TDP-43 and FUS, which are both DNA/RNA binding proteins, imply that abnormal RNA metabolism is a pivotal event, but the mechanisms leading to TDP-43 and FUS accumulation and the resulting neurodegeneration are currently unknown. Nonetheless, TDP-43 and FUS are promising candidates for the development of novel biomarker assays and targeted therapies.
 
Over the past 15 years the use of transcranial B-mode sonography to assess brainstem and subcortical brain structures has become an important tool for the diagnosis and differential diagnosis of various movement disorders. The most widely recognised finding for movement disorders has been an increase in echogenicity of the substantia nigra, an area of the midbrain that is affected in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD). This finding has enabled the reliable diagnosis of PD with high predictive values. Other sonographic features, such as hypoechogenicity of the brainstem midline and hyperechogenicity of the lentiform nucleus, might help the differential diagnosis of PD and other movement disorders. This Review provides detailed information about the advantages and limitations of this novel neuroimaging method, including guidelines for the scanning procedure and considerations on the origin of ultrasound abnormalities. We discuss the use of transcranial sonography for early and preclinical diagnosis and for differential diagnosis of PD and other movement disorders, and we compare this method with other functional neuroimaging strategies. Transcranial B-mode sonography is a reliable, non-invasive, commonly available, easily applicable, and inexpensive method, which provides new information about the morphology of the brain to help the diagnosis of various movement disorders. Thus, this neuroimaging method could be recommended for general application in the diagnosis and differential diagnosis of PD.
 
Meningiomas account for up to 30% of all primary intracranial tumours. They are histologically classified according to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of tumours of the nervous system. Most meningiomas are benign lesions of WHO grade I, whereas some meningioma variants correspond with WHO grades II and III and are associated with a higher risk of recurrence and shorter survival times. Mutations in the NF2 gene and loss of chromosome 22q are the most common genetic alterations associated with the initiation of meningiomas. With increase in tumour grade, additional progression-associated molecular aberrations can be found; however, most of the relevant genes are yet to be identified. High-throughput techniques of global genome and transcriptome analyses and new meningioma models provide increasing insight into meningioma biology and will help to identify common pathogenic pathways that may be targeted by new therapeutic approaches.
 
Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation and modifications to histone proteins regulate high-order DNA structure and gene expression. Aberrant epigenetic mechanisms are involved in the development of many diseases, including cancer. The neurological disorder most intensely studied with regard to epigenetic changes is Rett syndrome; patients with Rett syndrome have neurodevelopmental defects associated with mutations in MeCP2, which encodes the methyl CpG binding protein 2, that binds to methylated DNA. Other mental retardation disorders are also linked to the disruption of genes involved in epigenetic mechanisms; such disorders include alpha thalassaemia/mental retardation X-linked syndrome, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, and Coffin-Lowry syndrome. Moreover, aberrant DNA methylation and histone modification profiles of discrete DNA sequences, and those at a genome-wide level, have just begun to be described for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease, and in other neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In this Review, we describe epigenetic changes present in neurological diseases and discuss the therapeutic potential of epigenetic drugs, such as histone deacetylase inhibitors.
 
Have state-of-the-art clinical trials failed to deliver treatments for neurodegenerative diseases because of shortcomings in the rating scales used? This Review assesses two methodological limitations of rating scales that might help to answer this question. First, the numbers generated by most rating scales do not satisfy the criteria for rigorous measurements. Second, we do not really know which variables most rating scales measure. We use clinical examples to highlight concerns about the limitations of rating scales, examine their underlying rationales, clarify their implications, explore potential solutions, and make some recommendations for future research. We show that improvements in the scientific rigour of rating scales can improve the chances of reaching the correct conclusions about the effectiveness of treatments.
 
TRACK-HD is a prospective observational biomarker study in premanifest and early Huntington's disease (HD). In this report we define a battery of potential outcome measures for therapeutic trials. We assessed longitudinal data collected at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months at sites in Leiden (Netherlands), London (UK), Paris (France), and Vancouver (Canada). Participants were individuals without HD but carrying the mutant HTT gene (ie, premanifest HD), patients with early HD, and healthy control individuals matched by age and sex to the combined HD groups. Data were collected with 3T MRI, clinical, cognitive, quantitative motor, oculomotor, and neuropsychiatric assessments. We estimated adjusted, between-group differences in rates of change in these measures and concomitant longitudinal effect sizes. Longitudinal data were available for 116 control individuals, 117 premanifest gene carriers, and 116 participants with early HD. Significantly greater progressive grey-matter, white-matter, whole-brain, and regional atrophy was recorded in the premanifest and early HD groups than in the control group. Effect sizes for atrophy rates between participants with early HD and controls were largest in the caudate (2·04, 95% CI 1·68 to 2·48) and white matter (1·70, 1·40 to 2·08). Functional, quantitative motor, and cognitive measures deteriorated to a greater extent in the early HD group than in controls, with the largest effect size in the symbol digit modality test (1·00, 0·67 to 1·27). In the early HD group, changes in structural imaging and various cognitive and quantitative motor scores were associated with worsening total motor score (TMS) and total functional capacity (TFC). In the premanifest group, despite significant declines in regional and overall brain volumes, few functional variables showed significant 24 month change compared with controls; TMS, emotion recognition, and speeded tapping were exceptions. Premanifest individuals with progression, predefined as an increase in TMS score of 5 points or more, any TFC decline, or a new diagnostic confidence score of 4, exhibited higher rates of brain atrophy and deterioration on some quantitative motor tasks compared with other premanifest participants. On the basis of longitudinal effect size, we recommend several objective outcome measures for clinical trials in participants with early HD. Hypothetical treatment effects defined by slower longitudinal changes in these measures would be detectable over a realistic timescale with practical sample sizes. The restricted 24 month cognitive or motor decline in the premanifest sample illustrates the greater challenge in trial design for this group. CHDI/HighQ Foundation Inc.
 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease of the CNS that is characterised by widespread lesions in the brain and spinal cord. MS results in motor, cognitive, and neuropsychiatric symptoms, all of which can occur independently of one another. The common cognitive symptoms include deficits in complex attention, efficiency of information processing, executive functioning, processing speed, and long-term memory. These deficits detrimentally affect many aspects of daily life, such as the ability to run a household, participate fully in society, and maintain employment--factors that can all affect the overall quality of life of the patient. The increased use of neuroimaging techniques in patients with MS has advanced our understanding of structural and functional changes in the brain that are characteristic of this disease, although much remains to be learned. Moreover, examination of efforts to treat the cognitive deficits in MS is still in the early stages.
 
Schematic of the structure of CERE-120 AAV2 inverted terminal repeats (ITR) fl ank the NRTN expression cassette, which consists of the CAG promoter, the sequences encoding pre-proNGF and neurturin, and the polyadenylation (pA) signal from human growth hormone gene.
Off -medication UPDRS motor scores for all patients throughout the study (A,B) Present absolute and percentage change in scores from baseline in the low dose cohort, and (C,D) in the high dose cohort. The broken line (B,D) at 25% denotes the magnitude of the response that was defi ned, a priori, to be a clinically meaningful change for an interventional treatment. The solid line denotes no change.  
Treatment-emergent adverse events
Patient-reported motor function from diaries Each of the fi ve panels shows the total time (within 24 hours) that the patient reported being in each state. Note that the on time without troubling dyskinesia that is described in the text is the combined times of on: no dyskinesia and on: mild dyskinesia in the fi gure.  
There is an urgent need for therapies that slow or reverse the progression of Parkinson's disease (PD). Neurotrophic factors can improve the function of degenerating neurons and protect against further neurodegeneration, and gene transfer might be a means to deliver effectively these factors to the brain. The aim of this study was to assess the safety, tolerability, and potential efficacy of gene delivery of the neurotrophic factor neurturin. In this phase I, open-label clinical trial, 12 patients aged 35-75 years with a diagnosis of PD for at least 5 years in accordance with the UK Brain Bank Criteria received bilateral, stereotactic, intraputaminal injections of adeno-associated virus serotype 2-neurturin (CERE-120). The first six patients received doses of 1.3x10(11) vector genomes (vg)/patient, and the next six patients received 5.4x10(11) vg/patient. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00252850. The procedure was well tolerated. Extensive safety monitoring in all patients revealed no clinically significant adverse events at 1 year. Several secondary measures of motor function showed improvement at 1 year; for example, a mean improvement in the off-medication motor subscore of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) of 14 points (SD 8; p=0.000121 [36% mean increase; p=0.000123]) and a mean increase of 2.3 h (2; 25% group mean increase; p=0.0250) in on time without troublesome dyskinesia were seen. Improvements in several secondary measures were not significant, including the timed walking test in the off condition (p=0.053), the Purdue pegboard test of hand dexterity (p=0.318), the reduction in off time (p=0.105), and the activities of daily living subscore (part II) of the UPDRS (p=0.080). (18)F-levodopa-uptake PET did not change after treatment with either dose of CERE-120. The initial data support the safety, tolerability, and potential efficacy of CERE-120 as a possible treatment for PD; however, these results must be viewed as preliminary until data from blinded, controlled clinical trials are available. Ceregene; Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
 
Background: Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) needs to be distinguished from other types of dementia because of important differences in patient management and outcome. Current clinically based diagnostic criteria for DLB have limited accuracy. Severe nigrostriatal dopaminergic degeneration occurs in DLB, but not in Alzheimer's disease or most other dementia subtypes, offering a potential system for a biological diagnostic marker. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the sensitivity and specificity, in the ante-mortem differentiation of probable DLB from other causes of dementia, of single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) brain imaging with the ligand (123)I-2beta-carbometoxy-3beta-(4-iodophenyl)-N-(3-fluoropropyl) nortropane ((123)I-FP-CIT), which binds to the dopamine transporter (DAT) reuptake site. Diagnostic accuracy, positive and negative predictive values, and inter-reader agreement were the secondary endpoints and a subgroup of possible DLB patients was also included. Methods: We did a phase III study in which we used a (123)I-FP-CIT SPECT scan to assess 326 patients with clinical diagnoses of probable (n=94) or possible (n=57) DLB or non-DLB dementia (n=147) established by a consensus panel (in 28 patients no diagnosis could be made). Three readers, unaware of the clinical diagnosis, classified the images as normal or abnormal by visual inspection. The study had 90% power to detect the differences between our anticipated sensitivity (0.80) and specificity (0.85) targets and prespecified lower thresholds (sensitivity 0.65, specificity 0.73) using one-sided binomial tests with a significance level of alpha=0.025. Findings: Abnormal scans had a mean sensitivity of 77.7% for detecting clinical probable DLB, with specificity of 90.4% for excluding non-DLB dementia, which was predominantly due to Alzheimer's disease. A mean value of 85.7% was achieved for overall diagnostic accuracy, 82.4% for positive predictive value, and 87.5% for negative predictive value. Inter-reader agreement for rating scans as normal or abnormal was high (Cohen's kappa=0.87). The procedure was well tolerated with few adverse events. Interpretation: A revision of the International Consensus Criteria for DLB has recommended that low DAT uptake in the basal ganglia, as shown by SPECT or PET imaging, be a suggestive feature for diagnosis. Our findings confirm the high correlation between abnormal (low binding) DAT activity measured with (123)I-FP-CIT SPECT and a clinical diagnosis of probable DLB. The diagnostic accuracy is sufficiently high for this technique to be clinically useful in distinguishing DLB from Alzheimer's disease.
 
Infantile spasms is a severe infantile seizure disorder that is difficult to treat and has a high morbidity. Absence of spasms on days 13 and 14 after randomisation is more common in infants allocated hormone treatments than in those allocated vigabatrin. We sought to assess whether early control of spasms is associated with improved developmental or epilepsy outcomes. Infants enrolled in the United Kingdom Infantile Spasms Study (UKISS) were randomly assigned hormone treatment (n=55) or vigabatrin (n=52) and were followed up until clinical assessment at 12-14 months of age. We assessed neurodevelopment with the Vineland adaptive behaviour scales (VABS) at 14 months of age on an intention to treat basis. Of 107 infants enrolled, five died and 101 survivors reached both follow-up assessments. Absence of spasms at final clinical assessment (hormone 41/55 [75%] vs vigabatrin 39/51 [76%]) was similar in each treatment group (difference 1.9%, 95% CI -18.3% to 14.4%; chi(2)=0.05; p=0.82). Mean VABS score did not differ significantly (hormone 78.6 [SD 16.8] vs vigabatrin 77.5 [SD 12.7]; difference 1.0, 95% CI -4.9 to 7.0; t(99)=0.35, p=0.73). In infants with no identified underlying aetiology, the mean VABS score was higher in those allocated hormone treatment than in those allocated vigabatrin (88.2 [17.3] vs 78.9 [14.3]; difference 9.3, 95% CI 1.2 to 17.3; t(95)=2.28, p=0.025). Hormone treatment controls spasms better than does vigabatrin initially, but not at 12-14 months of age. Better initial control of spasms by hormone treatment in those with no identified underlying aetiology may lead to improved developmental outcome.
 
The recent discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) has revolutionised biological research and now holds promise as a potential therapy for human diseases. Currently untreatable neurological diseases are especially attractive targets. Scientists have already succeeded in using RNAi to suppress dominant disease genes in vitro; in some cases, this suppression has been allele-specific, silencing the disease-causing allele while maintaining expression of the normal allele. The challenge now is to bring this powerful technology in vivo to animal models to suppress disease genes and correct disease phenotypes. In the confrontation of this challenge, research should benefit from recent advances in viral and non-viral delivery of therapy to the brain.
 
The progranulin gene (GRN) is mutated in 5-10% of patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and in about 20% of patients with familial FTLD. The most common mutation in GRN is Arg493X. We aimed to establish the contribution of this mutation to FTLD and related disorders. We measured the frequency of Arg493X in 3405 unrelated patients with various neurodegenerative diseases using Taqman single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping. Clinicopathological characterisation and shared haplotype analysis were done for 30 families with FTLD who carry Arg493X. To investigate the effect of potential modifying loci, we did linear regression analyses with onset age as the covariate for GRN variants, for genotypes of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE), and for haplotypes of the microtubule-associated protein tau gene (MAPT). Of 731 patients with FTLD, 16 (2%) carried Arg493X. This mutation was not detected in 2674 patients who did not have FTLD. In 37 patients with Arg493X from 30 families with FTLD, clinical diagnoses included frontotemporal dementia, primary progressive aphasia, corticobasal syndrome, and Alzheimer's disease. Range of onset age was 44-69 years. In all patients who came to autopsy (n=13), the pathological diagnosis was FTLD with neuronal inclusions that contained TAR DNA-binding protein or ubiquitin, but not tau. Neurofibrillary tangle pathology in the form of Braak staging correlated with overall neuropathology in the Arg493X carriers. Haplotype analyses suggested that Arg493X arose twice, with a single founder for 27 families. Linear regression analyses suggested that patients with SNP rs9897528 on their wild-type GRN allele have delayed symptom onset. Onset ages were not associated with the MAPT H1 or H2 haplotypes or APOE genotypes, but early memory deficits were associated with the presence of an APOE epsilon4 allele. Clinical heterogeneity is associated with GRN haploinsufficiency, and genetic variability on the wild-type GRN allele might have a role in the age-related disease penetrance of GRN mutations.
 
Molecules that are found in the extracellular environment at a CNS lesion site, or that are associated with myelin, inhibit axon growth. In addition, neuronal changes--such as an age-dependent reduction in concentrations of cyclic AMP--render the neuron less able to respond to axotomy by a rapid, forward, actin-dependent movement. An alternative mechanism, based on the protrusive forces generated by microtubule elongation or the anterograde transport of cytoskeletal elements, may underlie a slower form of axon elongation that happens during regeneration in the mature CNS. Therapeutic approaches that restore the extracellular CNS environment or the neuron's characteristics back to a more embryonic state increase axon regeneration and improve functional recovery after injury. These advances in the understanding of regeneration in the CNS have major implications for neurorehabilitation and for the use of axonal regeneration as a therapeutic approach to disorders of the CNS such as spinal-cord injury.
 
Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) is a rare type of cerebrovascular disease that can occur at any age, including in neonates, and it accounts for 0.5% of all stroke. The widespread use of neuroimaging now allows for early diagnosis and has completely modified our knowledge on this disorder. CVT is more common than previously thought and it is recognised as a non-septic disorder with a wide spectrum of clinical presentations, numerous causes, and usually a favourable outcome with a low mortality rate. MRI with T1, T2, fluid-attenuated inversion recovery, and T2* sequences combined with magnetic resonance angiography are the best diagnostic methods. D-dimer concentrations are raised in most patients but normal D-dimers do not rule out CVT, particularly in patients who present with isolated headache. Heparin is the first-line treatment, but in a few cases more aggressive treatments, such as local intravenous thrombolysis, mechanical thrombectomy, and decompressive hemicraniectomy, may be required.
 
Familial fatal insomnia (FFI)--a hereditary prion disease caused by a mutation at codon 178 of the prion-protein (PrP) gene (PRNP) that leads to a D178N substitution in the protein--and its sporadic form, sporadic fatal insomnia (SFI), have similar disease phenotypes. Both disorders have clinical features of disrupted sleep (loss of sleep spindles and slow-wave sleep and enacted dreams during rapid-eye-movement sleep), autonomic hyperactivation, and motor abnormalities (myoclonus, ataxia, dysarthria, dysphagia, and pyramidal signs). PET shows pronounced thalamic and limbic hypometabolism that becomes more widespread in later stages. Neuropathological assessment reveals severe neuronal loss and astrogliosis of the anterior medial thalamus and inferior olives, with later cerebral cortical and cerebellar involvement. Accumulation of an isoform of protease-resistant PrP fragment in FFI distinct from that found in a familial form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease with the same D178N mutation, shows the effect of the polymorphism at codon 129 of PRNP on phenotypic expression and the possibility of distinct prion "strains" with diverse pathological potential. Intriguing clinicopathological correlations in FFI and SFI suggest a role for the thalamolimbic system in the regulation of sleep and other circadian functions.
 
Insulin has functions in the brain and dysregulation of these functions may contribute to the expression of late-life neurodegenerative disease. We provide a brief summary of research on the influence of insulin on normal brain function. We then review evidence that perturbation of this role may contribute to the symptoms and pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease. We conclude by considering whether insulin dysregulation contributes to neurodegenerative disorders through disease-specific or general mechanisms.
 
Amyloid-beta (Abeta) plaque formation is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and precedes the onset of dementia. Abeta imaging should allow earlier diagnosis, but clinical application is hindered by the short decay half-life of current Abeta-specific ligands. (18)F-BAY94-9172 is an Abeta ligand that, due to the half-life of (18)F, is suitable for clinical use. We thus studied the effectiveness of this ligand in identifying patients with AD. 15 patients with mild AD, 15 healthy elderly controls, and five individuals with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) were studied. (18)F-BAY94-9172 binding was quantified by use of the standardised uptake value ratio (SUVR), which was calculated for the neocortex by use of the cerebellum as reference region. SUVR images were visually rated as normal or AD. (18)F-BAY94-9172 binding matched the reported post-mortem distribution of Abeta plaques. All AD patients showed widespread neocortical binding, which was greater in the precuneus/posterior cingulate and frontal cortex than in the lateral temporal and parietal cortex. There was relative sparing of sensorimotor, occipital, and medial temporal cortex. Healthy controls and FTLD patients showed only white-matter binding, although three controls and one FTLD patient had mild uptake in frontal and precuneus cortex. At 90-120 min after injection, higher neocortical SUVR was observed in AD patients (2.0 [SD 0.3]) than in healthy controls (1.3 [SD 0.2]; p<0.0001) or FTLD patients (1.2 [SD 0.2]; p=0.009). Visual interpretation was 100% sensitive and 90% specific for detection of AD. (18)F-BAY94-9172 PET discriminates between AD and FTLD or healthy controls and might facilitate integration of Abeta imaging into clinical practice.
 
Imaging with amyloid-β PET can potentially aid the early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Florbetaben (¹⁸F) is a promising ¹⁸F-labelled amyloid-β-targeted PET tracer in clinical development. We aimed to assess the sensitivity and specificity of florbetaben (¹⁸F) PET in discriminating between patients with probable Alzheimer's disease and elderly healthy controls. We did a multicentre, open-label, non-randomised phase 2 study in 18 centres in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA. Imaging with florbetaben (¹⁸F) PET was done on patients with probable Alzheimer's disease (age 55 years or older, mini-mental state examination [MMSE] score=18-26, clinical dementia rating [CDR]=0·5-2·0) and age-matched healthy controls (MMSE ≥ 28, CDR=0). Our primary objective was to establish the diagnostic efficacy of the scans in differentiating between patients with probable disease and age-matched healthy controls on the basis of neocortical tracer uptake pattern 90-110 min post-injection. PET images were assessed visually by three readers masked to the clinical diagnosis and all other clinical findings, and quantitatively by use of pre-established brain volumes of interest to obtain standard uptake value ratios (SUVRs), taking the cerebellar cortex as the reference region. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00750282. 81 participants with probable Alzheimer's disease and 69 healthy controls were assessed. Independent visual assessment of the PET scans showed a sensitivity of 80% (95% CI 71-89) and a specificity of 91% (84-98) for discriminating participants with Alzheimer's disease from healthy controls. The SUVRs in all neocortical grey-matter regions in participants with Alzheimer's disease were significantly higher (p < 0·0001) compared with the healthy controls, with the posterior cingulate being the best discriminator. Linear discriminant analysis of regional SUVRs yielded a sensitivity of 85% and a specificity of 91%. Regional SUVRs also correlated well with scores of cognitive impairment such as the MMSE and the word-list memory and word-list recall scores (r -0·27 to -0·33, p ≤ 0·021). APOE ɛ4 was more common in participants with positive PET images compared with those with negative scans (65%vs 22% [p=0·027] in patients with Alzheimer's disease; 50%vs 16% [p = 0·074] in healthy controls). No safety concerns were noted. We provide verification of the efficacy, safety, and biological relevance of florbetaben (¹⁸F) amyloid-β PET and suggest its potential as a visual adjunct in the diagnostic algorithm of dementia. Bayer Schering Pharma AG.
 
UK stroke mortality data suggest that the incidence of haemorrhagic stroke has fallen in the past 20 years, but these data do not include deaths of individuals aged 75 years or over. Trends in the older population might differ, since cause varies with age. Our aim was to investigate changes in the population-based incidence of intracerebral haemorrhage according to age and likely aetiology. We used data from the Oxford Community Stroke Project (OCSP; 1981-86) and the Oxford Vascular Study (OXVASC; 2002-06) to investigate changes in the incidence of intracerebral haemorrhage with time, above and below age 75 years, together with associated risk factors and premorbid medications. Incidences were standardised to the 2001 census population of England and Wales. In the population aged under 75 years the incidence of intracerebral haemorrhage decreased substantially (rate ratio 0.53, 95% CI 0.29-0.95; p=0.03), but the number of cases of intracerebral haemorrhage at all ages were similar in OXVASC and OCSP (52 vs 55 cases) as the proportion of cases occurring at 75 years and over tended to increase (2.0, 0.8-4.6; p=0.09). The incidence of intracerebral haemorrhage associated with premorbid hypertension (blood pressure >or=160/100 mm Hg) fell overall (0.37, 0.20-0.69; p=0.002), but the incidence of intracerebral haemorrhage associated with antithrombotic use was increased (7.4, 1.7-32; p=0.007). Above age 75 years the proportion of cases who were non-hypertensive with lobar bleeds and presumed to have had mainly amyloid-related haemorrhages, also increased (4.0, 1.1-17; p=0.003). There has been a substantial fall in hypertension-associated intracerebral haemorrhage over the past 25 years, but not in the overall number of cases of intracerebral haemorrhage in older age-groups, in part due to a rise in intracerebral haemorrhage associated with antithrombotic use. These trends, along with the expected increase in prevalence of amyloid angiopathy with the ageing population, suggest that, in contrast to projections based on mortality data below age 75 years, absolute number of cases of intracerebral haemorrhage might increase in future.
 
Interferon beta-1a and glatiramer acetate are commonly prescribed for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), but no published randomised trials have directly compared these two drugs. Our aim in the REGARD (REbif vs Glatiramer Acetate in Relapsing MS Disease) study was to compare interferon beta-1a with glatiramer acetate in patients with RRMS. In this multicentre, randomised, comparative, parallel-group, open-label study, patients with RRMS diagnosed with the McDonald criteria who had had at least one relapse within the previous 12 months were randomised to receive 44 mug subcutaneous interferon beta-1a three times per week or 20 mg subcutaneous glatiramer acetate once per day for 96 weeks to assess the time to first relapse. A subpopulation of 460 patients (230 from each group) also had serial MRI scans to assess T2-weighted and gadolinium-enhancing lesion number and volume. Treatments were assigned by a computer-generated randomisation list that was stratified by centre. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00078338. Between February and December, 2004, 764 patients were randomly assigned: 386 to interferon beta-1a and 378 to glatiramer acetate. After 96 weeks, there was no significant difference between groups in time to first relapse (hazard ratio 0.94, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.21; p=0.64). Relapse rates were lower than expected: 258 patients (126 in the interferon beta-1a group and 132 in the glatiramer acetate group) had one or more relapses (the expected number was 460). For secondary outcomes, there were no significant differences for the number and change in volume of T2 active lesions or for the change in the volume of gadolinium-enhancing lesions, although patients treated with interferon beta-1a had significantly fewer gadolinium-enhancing lesions (0.24 vs 0.41 lesions per patient per scan, 95% CI -0.4 to 0.1; p=0.0002). Safety and tolerability profiles were consistent with the known profiles for both compounds. The overall number and severity of adverse events were similar between the treatments and were not an important cause for discontinuation of the trial during the 96 weeks. There was no significant difference between interferon beta-1a and glatiramer acetate in the primary outcome. The ability to predict clinical superiority on the basis of results from previous studies might be limited by a trial population with low disease activity, which is an important consideration for ongoing and future trials in patients with RRMS.
 
In patients presenting with a first clinical demyelinating event that is suggestive of multiple sclerosis (MS), treatment with interferon beta can delay the occurrence of further attacks and the onset of MS. We investigated the effects of two dosing frequencies of subcutaneous interferon beta-1a in patients with a first clinical demyelinating event. We undertook a multicentre phase 3 study (REbif FLEXible dosing in early MS [REFLEX]) that included patients (aged 18-50 years) with a single clinical event suggestive of MS, and at least two clinically silent T2 lesions on brain MRI. Participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1:1 ratio by use of a centralised interactive voice response system to receive the serum-free formulation of subcutaneous interferon beta-1a 44 μg three times a week or once a week (plus placebo twice a week for masking), or placebo three times a week for up to 24 months. Patients and physicians were masked to group allocation. The primary endpoint was time to a diagnosis of MS as defined by the 2005 McDonald criteria and the main secondary endpoint was time to clinically definite MS (CDMS) as defined by the Poser criteria. Analysis was by intention to treat. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00404352. 517 patients were randomly assigned (171 to subcutaneous interferon beta-1a three times a week, 175 to subcutaneous interferon beta-1a once a week, and 171 to placebo) and 515 were treated. The 2-year cumulative probability of McDonald MS was significantly lower in patients treated with subcutaneous interferon beta-1a (three times a week 62·5%, p<0·0001, hazard ratio [HR] 0·49 [95% CI 0·38-0·64]; once a week 75·5%, p=0·008, HR 0·69 [0·54-0·87]) versus placebo (85·8%). 2-year rates of conversion to CDMS were lower for both interferon beta-1a dosing regimens (three times a week 20·6%, p=0·0004, HR 0·48 [0·31-0·73]; once a week 21·6%, p=0·0023, HR 0·53 [0·35-0·79]) than for placebo (37·5%). Adverse events were within the established profile for subcutaneous interferon beta-1a. Both regimens of subcutaneous interferon beta-1a delayed clinical relapses and subclinical disease activity. The potential differences between the regimens warrant longer-term study. Merck Serono SA, Geneva, Switzerland.
 
Background: Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A) is the most common inherited nerve disorder. CMT1A is characterised by peripheral nerve demyelination, weakness, and impaired motor function and is caused by the duplication of PMP22, the gene that encodes peripheral myelin protein 22. High-dose ascorbic acid has been shown to have remyelinating potential and to correct the phenotype of a transgenic mouse model of CMT1A by decreasing expression of PMP22. We tested the efficacy and safety of ascorbic acid supplementation in children with CMT1A. Methods: This 12-month, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial undertaken between June, 2007, and December, 2008, assessed high-dose oral ascorbic acid (about 30 mg/kg/day) in 81 children with CMT1A (2-16 years). Randomisation was done on a 1:1 ratio by a computer-generated algorithm. All investigators and participants were blinded to treatment allocation with the exception of the trial pharmacist. The primary efficacy outcome was median nerve motor conduction velocity (m/s) at 12 months. Secondary outcomes were foot and hand strength, motor function, walking ability, and quality of life. Compliance was measured by plasma ascorbic acid concentration, pill count, and medication diary entries. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, Number 12606000481572. Findings: 81 children were randomly assigned to receive high-dose ascorbic acid (n=42) or placebo (n=39). 80 children completed 12 months of treatment. The ascorbic acid group had a small, non-significant increase in median nerve motor conduction velocity compared with the placebo group (adjusted mean difference 1.7 m/s, 95% CI -0.1 to 3.4; p=0.06). There was no measurable effect of ascorbic acid on neurophysiological, strength, function, or quality of life outcomes. Two children in the ascorbic acid group and four children in the placebo group reported gastrointestinal symptoms. There were no serious adverse events. Interpretation: 12 months of treatment with high-dose ascorbic acid was safe and well tolerated but none of the expected efficacy endpoints were reached.
 
Time to fi rst relapse over 48 weeks Peginterferon=pegylated interferon. *Based on Cox proportional hazards model, adjusted for baseline Expanded Disability Status Scale score (<4 vs ≥4), age (<40 vs ≥40), baseline relapse rate, and baseline gadolinium-enhancing lesions (presence vs absence). 
Time to disability progression over 48 weeks Disability progression defi ned as ≥1·0 point increase on the Expanded Disability Status Scale from a baseline score of ≥1·0 sustained for 12 weeks or at least a 1·5 point increase from a baseline score of 0 sustained for 12 weeks. Peginterferon=pegylated interferon. *Based on Cox proportional hazards model, adjusted for baseline Expanded Disability Status Scale score (<4 vs ≥4) and age (<40 vs ≥40). 
Subcutaneous pegylated interferon (peginterferon) beta-1a is being developed for treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis, with less frequent dosing than currently available first-line injectable treatments. We assessed the safety and efficacy of peginterferon beta-1a after 48 weeks of treatment in the placebo-controlled phase of the ADVANCE trial, a study of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. We did this 2-year, double-blind, parallel group, phase 3 study, with a placebo-controlled design for the first 48 weeks, at 183 sites in 26 countries. Patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (age 18-65 years, with Expanded Disability Status Scale score ≤5) were randomly assigned (1:1:1) via an interactive voice response or web system, and stratified by site, to placebo or subcutaneous peginterferon beta-1a 125 μg once every 2 weeks or every 4 weeks. The primary endpoint was annualised relapse rate at 48 weeks. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00906399. We screened 1936 patients and enrolled 1516, of whom 1512 were randomly assigned (500 to placebo, 512 to peginterferon every 2 weeks, 500 to peginterferon every 4 weeks); 1332 (88%) patients completed 48 weeks of treatment. Adjusted annualised relapse rates were 0·397 (95% CI 0·328-0·481) in the placebo group versus 0·256 (0·206-0·318) in the every 2 weeks group and 0·288 (0·234-0·355) in the every 4 weeks group (rate ratio for every 2 weeks group 0·644, 95% CI 0·500-0·831, p=0·0007; rate ratio for the every 4 weeks group 0·725, 95% CI 0·565-0·930, p=0·0114). 417 (83%) patients taking placebo, 481 (94%) patients taking peginterferon every 2 weeks, and 472 (94%) patients taking peginterferon every 4 weeks reported adverse events including relapses. The most common adverse events associated with peginterferon beta-1a were injection site reactions, influenza-like symptoms, pyrexia, and headache. 76 (15%) patients taking placebo, 55 (11%) patients taking study drug every 2 weeks, and 71 (14%) patients taking study drug every 4 weeks reported serious adverse events; relapse, pneumonia, and urinary tract infection were the most common. After 48 weeks, peginterferon beta-1a significantly reduced relapse rate compared with placebo. The drug might be an effective treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis with less frequent administration than available treatments. Biogen Idec.
 
Treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis with interferon beta is only partly effective, and new more effective and safe strategies are needed. Our aim was to assess the efficacy of oral methylprednisolone as an add-on therapy to subcutaneous interferon beta-1a to reduce the yearly relapse rate in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. NORMIMS (NORdic trial of oral Methylprednisolone as add-on therapy to Interferon beta-1a for treatment of relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis) was a randomised, placebo-controlled trial done in 29 neurology departments in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. We enrolled outpatients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis who had had at least one relapse within the previous 12 months despite subcutaneous interferon beta-1a treatment (44 microg three times per week). We randomly allocated patients by computer to add-on therapy of either 200 mg methylprednisolone or matching placebo, both given orally on 5 consecutive days every 4 weeks for at least 96 weeks. The primary outcome measure was mean yearly relapse rate. Primary analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN16202527. 66 patients were assigned to interferon beta and oral methylprednisolone and 64 were assigned to interferon beta and placebo. A high proportion of patients withdrew from the study before week 96 (26% [17 of 66] on methylprednisolone vs 17% [11 of 64] on placebo). The mean yearly relapse rate was 0.22 for methylprednisolone compared with 0.59 for placebo (62% reduction, 95% CI 39-77%; p<0.0001). Sleep disturbance and neurological and psychiatric symptoms were the most frequent adverse events recorded in the methylprednisolone group. Bone mineral density had not changed after 96 weeks. Oral methylprednisolone given in pulses every 4 weeks as an add-on therapy to subcutaneous interferon beta-1a in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis leads to a significant reduction in relapse rate. However, because of the small number of patients and the high dropout rate, these findings need to be corroborated in larger cohorts.
 
Background: Alemtuzumab is a humanised monoclonal antibody that depletes lymphocytes, causing long-term immunomodulation. In a 3-year, rater-blinded phase 2 study (the CAMMS223 study) in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), alemtuzumab reduced relapse rate and the risk of sustained accumulation of disability compared with subcutaneous interferon beta-1a, and the mean expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score of the alemtuzumab cohort improved compared with baseline. Adverse events included infusion-associated reactions, predominantly mild to moderate infections, thyroid disorders, and immune thrombocytopenia. In this study, we further analysed the CAMMS223 data with the aim of determining whether demographic and baseline disease-related characteristics affect the beneficial effects of alemtuzumab. Additionally, we aimed to describe a new outcome measure in multiple sclerosis research: sustained reduction in disability. Methods: 334 treatment-naive patients with active, early RRMS were randomly assigned in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive interferon beta-1a (44 μg subcutaneously three times per week), or 24 mg per day or 12 mg per day alemtuzumab intravenously for 2 or 3 annual cycles. We analysed freedom from clinical disease activity (CDA; defined as no relapses and no sustained accumulation of disability) and occurrence of sustained reduction in disability (SRD; a ≥1 point decrease on the EDSS sustained for 6 consecutive months for patients with a baseline EDSS ≥2), and analysed efficacy outcomes for subgroups based on age, sex, geographic region, MRI-T1 brain volume, MRI-T2 lesion volume, disease duration, number of previous relapses within 2 years, and EDSS. Findings: 322 patients were analysed. 161 of 215 patients treated with alemtuzumab were free of CDA at 36 months (Kaplan-Meier estimate 71·8%, 95% CI 63·1-78·8%) compared with 52 of 107 patients treated with interferon beta-1a (42·6%, 32·4-52·4%; hazard ratio [HR]=0·31, 0·20-0·46; p<0·0001). For the 199 patients with a baseline EDSS score greater than or equal to 2, SRD was more likely (HR=2·61, 1·54-4·43; p=0·0004) among patients treated with alemtuzumab (66 of 133 patients, Kaplan-Meier estimate 51·6%, 95% CI 43·2-60·7%) than patients treated with interferon beta-1a (15 of 66 patients, 27·2%, 17·2-41·4%). All disability and relapse outcomes showed evidence of beneficial effects of alemtuzumab compared with interferon beta-1a across all analysed patient subsets, and no subgroup of patients consistently responded better than others to alemtuzumab. Interpretation: Alemtuzumab reduced disease activity compared with interferon beta-1a in most of the analysed subgroups. Significantly greater numbers of patients experienced sustained improvement in disability after treatment with alemtuzumab than interferon beta-1a. The efficacy offered by alemtuzumab is a substantial advance in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Funding: Genzyme and Bayer Schering Pharma.
 
Interferon beta is commonly used to treat patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis; however, the treatment is only partially effective in reducing relapses and progression of disability. Corticosteroids are used to treat relapses in patients with multiple sclerosis. We therefore aimed to investigate the combination of cyclic methylprednisolone and interferon beta for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. In 2001, we designed a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, parallel-group trial, termed the methylprednisolone in combination with interferon beta-1a for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MECOMBIN) study. Patients were recruited between October, 2002, and March, 2005 from 50 neurology departments in eight countries. We included treatment-naive patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis who had an expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score of 4 or less. Patients all started to receive interferon beta-1a and after 3 months were randomly assigned to add-on methylprednisolone or placebo 500 mg/day orally for 3 consecutive days per month for 3-4 years. Placebo tablets were identical to methylprednisolone tablets. Treating physicians, examining physicians, and patients were masked to treatment allocation. Patients were clinically assessed every 3 months and had brain MRI at baseline and 3 years later. The primary outcome was time to onset of disability progression, according to an increase in EDSS score sustained over 6 months. All patients who received at least one dose of study drug were included in all planned analyses. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00168766. 341 patients were randomly assigned to methylprednisolone (n=172) or placebo (n=169); 171 patients in the methylprednisolone group and 167 in the placebo group received at least one dose of study drug. 90 patients had sustained disability progression: 44 of 167 in the methylprednisolone group and 46 of 171 in the placebo group. The time to sustained progression did not differ between groups (hazard ratio 0.879, 95% CI 0.566-1.365; p=0.57). There were 1436 adverse events, 24 of which were serious, in the methylprednisolone group and 1070 events, 35 of which were serious, in the placebo group. Monthly pulses of methylprednisolone in combination with interferon beta-1a do not seem to affect disability progression any more than interferon beta-1a treatment alone. More research is required to assess whether this treatment regimen might benefit particular subsets of patients. Biogen Idec.
 
Background: In a 12-month phase 3 study in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), TRANSFORMS, fingolimod showed greater efficacy on relapse rates and MRI outcomes compared with interferon beta-1a. We had two aims in our extension: to compare year 2 with year 1 in the switched patients to assess the effect of a change from interferon beta-1a to fingolimod, and to compare over 24 months the treatment groups as originally randomised to assess the effect of delaying the start of treatment with fingolimod. Methods: Patients randomly assigned to receive 0.5 mg or 1.25 mg daily oral fingolimod in the core study continued with the same treatment in our extension; patients who originally received 30 μg weekly intramuscular interferon beta-1a were randomly reassigned (1:1) to receive either 0.5 mg or 1.25 mg fingolimod. The initial randomisation and dose of fingolimod assigned for the extension remained masked to the patients and investigators. As in the core study, re-randomisation was done centrally in blocks of six and stratified according to site. Our efficacy endpoints were annualised relapse rate (ARR), disability progression, and MRI outcomes. Our within-group analyses were based on the intention-to-treat and safety populations that entered our extension study. Our between-group analyses were based on the intention-to-treat and safety populations from the core study. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00340834. Findings: 1027 patients entered our extension and received the study drug, and 882 completed 24 months of treatment. Patients receiving continuous fingolimod showed persistent benefits in ARR (0.5 mg fingolimod [n=356], 0.12 [95% CI 0.08-0.17] in months 0-12 vs 0.11 [0.08-0.16] in months 13-24; 1.25 mg fingolimod [n=330], 0.15 [0.10-0.21] vs 0.11 [0.08-0.16]; however, in patients who initially received interferon beta-1a, ARR was lower after switching to fingolimod compared with the previous 12 months (interferon beta-1a to 0.5 mg fingolimod [n=167], 0.31 [95% CI 0.22-0.43] in months 0-12 vs 0.22 [0.15-0.31], in months 13-24 p=0.049; interferon beta-1a to 1.25 mg fingolimod [n=174], 0.29 [0.20-0.40] vs 0.18 [0.12-0.27], p=0.024). After switching to fingolimod, numbers of new or newly enlarging T2 and gadolinium (Gd)-enhancing T1 lesions were significantly reduced compared with the previous 12 months of interferon beta-1a therapy (p<0.0001 for T2 lesions at both doses; p=0.002 for T1 at 0.5 mg; p=0.011 for T1 at 1.25 mg), and the pattern of adverse events shifted towards that typical for fingolimod. Over 24 months, in continuous fingolimod groups compared with the group that switched from interferon beta-1a to fingolimod, we recorded lower ARRs (0.18 [95% CI 0.14-0.22] for 0.5 mg; 0.20 [0.16-0.25] for 1.25 mg; 0.33 [0.27-0.39] for the switch group; p<0.0001 for both comparisons), fewer new or newly enlarged T2 lesions (p=0.035 for 0.5 mg, p=0.068 for 1.25 mg), and fewer patients with Gd-enhancing T1 lesions (p=0.001 for 0.5 mg fingolimod vs switch group; p=0.002 for 1.25 mg fingolimod vs switch group). There was no benefit on disability progression. Interpretation: Switching from interferon beta-1a to fingolimod led to enhanced efficacy with no unexpected safety concerns. Compared with patients switched from interferon beta-1a to fingolimod, continuous treatment with fingolimod for 2 years provides a sustained treatment effect with improved clinical and MRI outcomes. Funding: Novartis Pharma AG.
 
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A) is a hereditary peripheral neuropathy that affects roughly one in 5000 births. No specific therapy currently exists for this degenerative disorder, which is characterised by distal progressive muscle atrophy and sensory loss, although ascorbic acid has been shown to reduce demyelination and improve muscle function in a transgenic mouse model of CMT1A. We tested the safety and efficacy of ascorbic acid in adults with CMT1A. This 12-month, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was undertaken between September, 2005, and October, 2008. Patients diagnosed with CMT1A according to clinical examination and confirmation by genotyping were randomly assigned in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive 1 g ascorbic acid per day, 3 g ascorbic acid per day, or placebo. Treatment allocation was based on a computer-generated list of random numbers in blocks of 12, with stratification according to study site and sex; all investigators and participants were unaware of treatment allocation. The primary outcome was the Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease neuropathy score (CMTNS) at 12 months. Analysis was by intention to treat. This study is registered with the Orphanet Database, number ORPHA60779. The median change in CMTNS from baseline to 12 months was 0.5 points (95% CI -0.3 to 1.4) for the placebo group (n=62), 0.7 points (0.0 to 1.4) for the 1 g ascorbic acid group (n=56), and -0.4 points (-1.2 to 0.4) for the 3 g ascorbic acid group (n=61). We did not find any significant difference in these changes between the groups (p=0.14). The occurrence of adverse events did not differ between the groups (p=0.74). Ascorbic acid at both doses was safe and well tolerated in adults with CMT1A over 12 months. However, there were no significant differences between the groups and the efficacy of ascorbic acid was not shown.
 
Treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis with interferon beta is only partly effective. We aimed to establish whether add-on of simvastatin, a statin with anti-inflammatory properties, improves this efficacy. We enrolled treatment-naive patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in a multicentre, placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomised, parallel-group trial of simvastatin (80 mg daily) as add-on treatment to intramuscular interferon beta-1a (30 μg weekly). After starting treatment with interferon beta, patients were randomly assigned (in computer-generated blocks of four patients) to simvastatin 80 mg per day or placebo for 1-3 years. Patients and treating and evaluating physicians were masked to treatment allocation. The primary outcome measure was annual rate of documented relapses; analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00492765. We randomly assigned 307 patients to interferon beta plus simvastatin (n=151) or plus placebo (n=156). Annual rate of documented relapses was 0·19 (95% CI 0·13 to 0·28) in the simvastatin group and 0·14 (95% CI 0·09 to 0·23) in the placebo group (absolute difference 0·059, 95% CI -0·21 to 0·09; p=0·35). Time to first documented relapse (20th percentile) was 18·1 months in patients on simvastatin and 21·5 months in those on placebo (hazard ratio 1·21, 95% CI 0·74 to 1·99; p=0·51). Mean number of new or enlarging T2 lesions was 2·96 in the simvastatin group and 2·52 in the placebo group (ratio of new lesions, 1·17, 95% CI 8·89 to 1·55; p=0·25). Eight (6%) patients on simvastatin and 17 (13%) on placebo had no disease activity (odds ratio 0·42, 95% CI 0·17 to 1·00; p=0·05). No unexpected adverse events were seen. Generally, adverse events were mild and there were no group differences in infections or musculoskeletal disorders, including myalgia (five [3%] patients on simvastatin and nine [6%] on placebo). Rhabdomyolysis and myoglobinuria were not reported and there were no differences in serum creatine phosphokinase. We found no beneficial effect of simvastatin as add-on therapy to interferon beta-1a. Although unlikely, we can not exclude that combination of other statins with other disease-modifying drugs still could be beneficial. Biogen Idec.
 
Yearly changes in MRI parameters (A) Mean change in T2 lesion volume. (B) Mean change in brain volume. (C) Mean change in T1-hypointense lesion volume. *p=0·01 versus glatiramer acetate. †p=0·04 versus glatiramer acetate. ‡p=0·04 versus 250 μg interferon beta-1b. §p=0·007 versus glatiramer acetate. ¶p=0·02 versus glatiramer acetate.  
Outcome variables and relapse risk
Frequency of fl u-like symptoms and injection-site reactions over time Flu-like symptoms (eg, increased body temperature, chills, cold sweats, feeling cold, body temperature change, malaise, myalgia, pyrexia, and hyperhidrosis) were more common with interferon beta-1b, whereas injection-site reactions (eg, anaesthesia, atrophy, bruising, dermatitis, discolouration, discomfort, eczema, erythema, haematoma, haemorrhage, hypersensitivity, induration, infection, infl ammation, mass, necrosis, nodule, oedema, pain, papule, paraesthesia, phlebitis, pruritus, pustule, rash, reaction, swelling, urticaria, warmth, vessel puncture site haematoma, and vessel puncture-site reaction) were more prevalent with glatiramer acetate. The occurrence of these adverse events subsided with time in the three treatment groups. Occurrences are presented for each quarter (Q). Because all patients completed 2 years of treatment, data are presented up to Q8.  
Adverse events in at least 10% of patients in one treatment arm
The aim of the Betaferon Efficacy Yielding Outcomes of a New Dose (BEYOND) trial was to compare the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of 250 microg or 500 microg interferon beta-1b with glatiramer acetate for treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Between November, 2003, and June, 2005, 2447 patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis were screened and 2244 patients were enrolled in this prospective, multicentre, randomised trial. Patients were randomly assigned 2:2:1 by block randomisation with regional stratification to receive one of two doses of interferon beta-1b (250 microg or 500 microg) subcutaneously every other day or 20 mg glatiramer acetate subcutaneously every day. The primary outcome was relapse risk, defined as new or recurrent neurological symptoms separated by at least 30 days from the preceding event and that lasted at least 24 h. Secondary outcomes were progression on the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) and change in T1-hypointense lesion volume. Clinical outcomes were assessed quarterly for 2.0-3.5 years; MRI was done at screening and annually thereafter. Analysis was by per protocol. This study is registered, number NCT00099502. We found no differences in relapse risk, EDSS progression, T1-hypointense lesion volume, or normalised brain volume among treatment groups. Flu-like symptoms were more common in patients treated with interferon beta-1b (p<0.0001), whereas injection-site reactions were more common in patients treated with glatiramer acetate (p=0.0005). Patient attrition rates were 17% (153 of 888) on 250 microg interferon beta-1b, 26% (227 of 887) on 500 microg interferon beta-1b, and 21% (93 of 445) for glatiramer acetate. 500 microg interferon beta-1b was not more effective than the standard 250 microg dose, and both doses had similar clinical effects to glatiramer acetate. Although interferon beta-1b and glatiramer acetate had different adverse event profiles, the overall tolerability to both drugs was similar. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.
 
Time to clinically defi nite multiple sclerosis, time to multiple sclerosis according to the McDonald criteria, and time to confi rmed EDSS progression
Treatment eff ect of early versus delayed interferon beta-1b on confi rmed EDSS progression in subgroups at time of fi rst event
Comparison of published study extensions of controlled studies in patients with clinically isolated syndromes
The Betaferon/Betaseron in newly emerging multiple sclerosis for initial treatment (BENEFIT) trial investigated the effect of treatment with interferon beta-1b after a clinically isolated syndrome. The 5-year active treatment extension compares the effects of early and delayed treatment with interferon beta-1b on time to clinically definite multiple sclerosis (CDMS) and other disease outcomes, including disability progression. Patients with a first event suggestive of multiple sclerosis and a minimum of two clinically silent lesions in MRI were randomly assigned to receive interferon beta-1b 250 microg (n=292; early treatment) or placebo (n=176; delayed treatment) subcutaneously every other day for 2 years, or until diagnosis of CDMS. All patients were then eligible to enter a prospectively planned follow-up phase with open-label interferon beta-1b up to a maximum of 5 years after randomisation. Patients and study personnel remained unaware of initial treatment allocation throughout the study. Primary endpoints were time to CDMS, time to confirmed disability progression measured with the expanded disability status scale, and the functional assessment of multiple sclerosis trial outcomes index (FAMS-TOI) at 5 years. Analysis of the primary endpoints was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00185211. 235 (80%) patients from the early treatment and 123 (70%) from the delayed treatment group completed the 5-year study. Early treatment reduced the risk of CDMS by 37% (hazard ratio [HR] 0.63, 95% CI 0.48-0.83; p=0.003) compared with delayed treatment. The risk for confirmed disability progression was not significantly lower in the early treatment group (0.76, 0.52-1.11; p=0.177). At 5 years, median FAMS-TOI scores were 125 in both groups. No significant differences in other disability related outcomes were recorded. Frequency and severity of adverse events remained within the established safety and tolerability profile of interferon beta-1b. Effects on the rate of conversion to CDMS and the favourable long-term safety and tolerability profile support early initiation of treatment with interferon beta-1b, although a delay in treatment by up to 2 years did not affect long-term disability outcomes. Bayer Schering Pharma.
 
Lasmiditan (COL-144) is a novel, centrally acting, highly selective 5-HT(1F) receptor agonist without vasoconstrictor activity that seemed effective when given as an intravenous infusion in a proof-of-concept migraine study. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of oral lasmiditan for the acute treatment of migraine. In this multicentre, double-blind, parallel-group, dose-ranging study in 43 headache centres in five European countries, patients with migraine with and without aura and who were not using prophylaxis were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1:1) to treat one moderate or severe attack at home with 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, or 400 mg lasmiditan, or placebo. Study drug and placebo were supplied in identical numbered tablet packs. The randomisation code was generated by an independent statistician. Patients and investigators were masked to treatment allocation. The primary endpoint was dose response for headache relief (moderate or severe becoming mild or none) at 2 h. The primary analysis was done in the modified intention-to-treat population. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00883051. Between July 8 2009, and Feb 18, 2010, 512 patients were randomly assigned to treatment, 391 of whom received treatment. 86 patients received placebo (81 included in primary analysis) and 305 received lasmiditan (50 mg n=79, 100 mg n=81, 200 mg n=69, and 400 mg n=68 included in primary analysis). There was a linear association between headache response rate at 2 h and lasmiditan dose (Cochran-Armitage test p<0·0001). Every lasmiditan treatment dose significantly improved headache response at 2 h compared with placebo (lasmiditan 50 mg: difference 17·9%, 95% CI 3·9-32·1, p=0·022; 100 mg: 38·2%, 24·1-52·4, p<0·0001; 200 mg: 28·8%, 9·6-39·9, p=0·0018; 400 mg: 38·7%, 23·9-53·6, p<0·0001). The proportion of patients with treatment-emergent adverse events increased with increasing doses (53/82 [65%], 59/82 [72%], 61/71 [86%], and 59/70 [84%] for lasmiditan 50, 100, 200, and 400 mg, respectively vs 19/86 [22%] for placebo). Most adverse events were mild or moderate in intensity, with 16 of 82 (20%), 23 of 82 (28%), 28 of 71 (39%), and 31 of 70 (44%) of patients on lasmiditan 50, 100, 200, and 400 mg, respectively reporting a severe adverse event compared with five of 86 (6%) on placebo. The most common adverse events were CNS related and included dizziness, fatigue, vertigo, paraesthesia, and somnolence. Oral lasmiditan seems to be safe and effective in the acute treatment of migraine. Further assessment in larger placebo-controlled and triptan-controlled trials are needed to assess the potential role of lasmiditan in acute migraine therapy. CoLucid Pharmaceuticals.
 
Limited population-based data exist on differences in the incidence of major pathological stroke types and ischaemic stroke subtypes across ethnic groups. We aimed to provide such data within the large multi-ethnic population of Auckland, New Zealand. All first-ever cases of stroke (n=1423) in a population-based register in 940 000 residents (aged 15 years) in Auckland, New Zealand, for a 12-month period in 2002-2003, were classified into ischaemic stroke, primary intracerebral haemorrhage (PICH), subarachnoid haemorrhage, and undetermined stroke, according to standard definitions and results of neuroimaging/necropsy (in over 90% of cases). Ischaemic stroke was further classified into five subtypes. Ethnicity was self-identified and grouped as New Zealand (NZ)/European, Maori/Pacific, and Asian/other. Incidence rates were standardised to the WHO world population by the direct method, and differences in rates between ethnic groups expressed as rate ratios (RRs), with NZ/European as the reference group. In NZ/European people, ischaemic stroke comprised 73%, PICH 11%, and subarachnoid haemorrhage 6%, but PICH was higher in Maori/Pacific people (17%) and in Asian/other people (22%). Compared with NZ/European people, age-adjusted RRs for PICH were 2.7 (95% CI 1.8-4.0) and 2.3 (95% CI 1.4-3.7) among Maori/Pacific and Asian/other people, respectively. The corresponding RR for ischaemic stroke was greater for Maori/Pacific people (1.7 [95% CI 1.4-2.0]), particularly embolic stroke, and for Asian/other people (1.3 [95% CI 1.0-1.7]). The onset of stroke in Maori/Pacific and Asian/other people began at significantly younger ages (62 years and 64 years, respectively) than in NZ/Europeans (75 years; p<0.0001). There were ethnic differences in the risk factor profiles (such as age, sex, hypertension, cardiac disease, diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia, smoking status, overweight) for the stroke types and subtypes. Compared to NZ/Europeans, Maori/Pacific and Asian/other people are at higher risk of ischaemic stroke and PICH, whereas similar rates of subarachnoid haemorrhage were evident across ethnic groups. The ethnic disparities in the rates of stroke types could be due to substantial differences found in risk factor profiles between ethnic groups. This information should be considered when planning prevention and stroke-care services in multi-ethnic communities.
 
Top-cited authors
Valery Feigin
  • Auckland University of Technology
Derrick A Bennett
  • University of Oxford
Graeme J Hankey
  • University of Western Australia
Ph Scheltens
  • Amsterdam University Medical Center
Simon Iain Hay
  • Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)