News in Brief: Infection risk for DMT users; Early detection test for PD; Cannabis use linked to rebound headache in CM

4 Mar 2021

Infection risk for DMT users 

People with MS taking disease modifying therapies (DMTs) have a higher risk of serious viral infections, with women at higher risk, a US study shows.

Presented at the ACTRIMS 2021 meeting, results from an observational study of 15,173 MS patients, including 4,482 taking a DMT, showed that overall infection risk was significantly higher in those receiving DMTs than the non-DMT group (OR, 1.15). There was higher risk of serious viral infections requiring hospitalisation (OR, 1.96) but not serious bacterial infections in those receiving a DMT. Similarly, non-serious viral infections were also higher in DMT group (OR, 2.65), as were non-serious bacterial infections requiring ant-infective treatment (OR, 1.51). The risk of infection was higher in people with a comorbidity besides MS and also in females, especially for non-serious bacterial and viral infections.

Early detection test for Parkinson’s Disease

Sydney researchers have developed a new diagnostic technique that will allow clinicians to detect Parkinson’s disease at early stages before the onset of clinical signs.

The technology combines a single-molecule counting technique with a rapid amplification assay to detect alpha-synuclein – a promising biomarker for the disease.

The assay can detect fibrils – highly organised strings of alpha-synuclein that can interfere with normal brain function – at very low concentrations in a little over five hours, researchers say.

The test offers an advantage over most other molecular detection methods currently under development, which require multiple steps to amplify alpha-synuclein that can take more than 50 hours.

The test has so far been able to detect fibrils in samples taken from cerebrospinal fluid. The team is now working on adapting the assay for detection of alpha-synuclein in biofluids that can be collected with less invasive procedures, including blood, urine and saliva.

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Cannabis use linked to rebound headache in chronic migraine

Using cannabis for relief from migraine headache may be associated with developing “rebound” headache or medication overuse headache (MOH), according to a preliminary study released this week.

US researchers looked at the records of 368 people with chronic migraine, 150 of who were using cannabis to treat the condition. In total 212 experienced MOH.

Significant associations were found between current cannabis use, opioid use and MOH while patients using opioids were more likely to have current cannabis use. Those using cannabis were six times more likely to have medication overuse headache than those who did not, investigators said.

Both cannabis and opioids can influence the periaqueductal gray area of the brain, which has been proposed as a possible generator of migraine attacks, the authors note.

The findings are due to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 73rd Annual Meeting being held virtually from April 17.

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