Study in France Shows Patients with Primary or Secondary Progressive MS Benefit from Vitamin B7

May 26, 2015 James D. Bowen, M.D.

Biotin is vitamin B7. There is a group in France studying Biotin. They published a small study a few months ago, and a larger study was presented at the AAN meeting last month. The results of the study were reported to show a benefit in patients with primary or secondary progressive MS. There were 154 patient enrolled in this study, half on biotin and half on placebo. The outcome measured was the number of people who improved on their disability at 9 months and who continued to be improved at 12 months. 13% improved in the biotin group compared to none in the placebo group. While this is encouraging, this has to be viewed with caution. First, it is surprising that there would be improvement after only 9 months since the nervous system is very slow to heal. Also, only 13 patients improved. This low number improving suggests that the biotin was not helpful for the majority of patients, but it also brings into question whether the results could be due to difficulties with study design such as inadequate numbers of patients or problems with blinding of the treatment/placebo arms. A larger study with a phase III design will be needed to determine whether biotin is truly helpful. This would need to include outcomes such as MRI, eye examinations or evoked potentials to demonstrate that any improvement was actually due to healing of the nervous system.

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