June Halper: Up and Coming Drugs in Multiple Sclerosis


What new drug classes are catching the most traction among clinicians?

There are a handful of biologic therapies on the horizon for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), but how they interact with current therapies or address critical cognitive symptoms may dictate their true value.

In an interview with MD Magazine®, June Halper, MSN, APN-C, chief executive officer of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), explained why she’s looking most forward to a future of individualized MS therapy, and a toolset that allows clinicians to address cognitive impairment.

MD Mag: What emerging forms of care for MS have caught your attention?

Halper: There are several oral medications that are being studied that are very similar to fingolimod, which they sequester the lymphocytes and lymph nodes, and keep the circulating nasty ones where they belong. Of course, the big thing now is the stem cells.

There are a number of studies going on throughout the United States, Canada, as well as throughout the world. A lot of people have a lot of hope in the stem cell therapy. And I think there are people that are going and purchasing it at care centers—mainly in Europe and Mexico. But my best advice to people with MS is to wait and see what happens. These are not innocuous therapies.

So that may be a very promising way to go. And of course, like the biologics, I think it's very exciting. And I think earlier on I said that I think the most important thing is personalized medicine. If we can take a genetic profile of a person and match it up to the mechanism of action of a particular biological or oral, or even in one of the injectables, and say, “This is the perfect medicine for you, here is a great fit,” that would be terrific.

And you're watching that now in cancer, with some of the immunotherapies, with some of the very serious cancers. And you're starting to see some good disease control and good remission, and maybe that's down the road for us in MS.

What is the current understanding of cognitive impairment’s role in MS?

It's not like Alzheimer, but it’s very serious condition that's related to MS. And my hope is that one of these days, they're going to discover the mechanism by which cognitive impairment occurs, and to try to find 1 drug that hits that problem and hits the whole spectrum of MS, and controls them from losing their cognition, memory, and judgment, and things like that.

To me, you could be a quadriplegic in a wheelchair and work, but if you can't remember and think…

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