Yaakov Levine, PhD, SetPoint Medical Corporation, Valencia, California, compares currently approved disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for multiple sclerosis (MS) with vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Current DMTs work well at preventing disease relapse and slowing down the rate of progression mainly by immunosuppressive mechanisms. However, immunosuppression has consequences, such as a higher risk of developing infections, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), and cancer. Contrastingly, VNS is a common treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and depression, and the side effects are well-known and mostly related to implementation surgery. The most common side-effect of VNS is laryngeal muscle contraction, which causes discomfort and difficulty swallowing during stimulation. According to data regarding the use of VNS in MS, stimulation would only occur for minutes per day, an order of magnitude lower than what is currently used for epilepsy and depression. Importantly, preclinical data with VNS in animal models show potential for remyelination – the holy grail of MS research. This interview took place during the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) 2022 Forum in Paris, France.
Yaakov Levine is a full time employee of SetPoint Medical, Inc.