Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Extending CLIPPERS (again)?

As time goes on, there seem to be more case studies which veer away from the characteristics of the original cohort described by Dr Pittock. In this recent report "An extended chronic lymphocytic inflammation with pontine perivascular enhancement responsive to steroids phenotype", Dr Lane and colleagues describe an interesting new case with some unusual features. (Unfortunately full text for this article is not available on-line, but those interested could try emailing the senior author Dr Robin Howard and asking for a pre-print.)

The earliest symptoms of the woman in this case study were initially right-sided facial weakness with abnormal cold sensations on her left leg. It was over a year before scans revealed CLIPPERS-type brain lesions. However in this case there were more wide-spread lesions ("cortical involvement") than in some other reported cases and she suffered seizures. The CLIPPERS symptoms improved immensely after 5 days of high-dose steroids (although at 500mg/day rather than the 1000mg/day I received). Of interest to me  is that this patient was then moved onto a tapered dose of Prednisolone starting at 60mg/day (like me) and subsequently onto Azathioprine (like me, but dosage not reported). She has apparently remained well 6 months on. 

My experience is not directly comparable to this patient as my symptoms were much more in the "classic" vein (i.e. limited to double-vision, balance, speech, symmetric facial and limb numbness). However interesting to see the use of Azathioprine when it seems more common to prescribe Methotrexate or Cell Cept. I'm not convinced Azathioprine is a magic bullet but suspect that different people react to the disease and the treatment in different ways; but I am not a doctor.

Interestingly, my doctor said recently he still has no idea why some people seem to relapse on these "steroid-sparing" agents but remain well on steroids, as both treatments should have essentially the same action.

In other news I finally got round to sending my consent forms back the Mayo for their study.

Read other articles in this series at Living With CLIPPERS.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Historical CLIPPERS cases

Holiday snap from Southern Italy
I recently read an interesting short communication entitled "CLIPPERS among patients diagnosed with non-specific CNS neuroinflammatory diseases" by Dr Kerrn-Jespersen and colleagues from hospitals in Denmark. As regular readers of this blog will know, the term "CLIPPERS" was first used in 2010 in the now well-known paper by Dr Pittock and colleagues. They observed a consistent pattern of symptoms and treatment responses in a group of patients over several years which led them to the conclusion that a single previously unreported condition was responsible. 

CLIPPERS is very rare, which is presumably why it was not identified earlier. However, it is reasonable to suspect that there were other cases out there "in the wild" before 2010; these cases were presumably either diagnosed as something else or diagnosed as some generic inflammatory condition. In the Danish paper, the authors searched their hospital records between 1999 and 2013 for cases with descriptions reminiscent of CLIPPERS. After some investigation they found 3 patients (= 12.5% of their initial list of suspects) who justified being reclassified with a CLIPPERS diagnosis. This number may seem small, but it is from a limited number of European centres over a limited time-period and suggests there could be significant further cases out there.
Perhaps the most important practical outcome of the study for us patients is that the follow-up of their 3 cases confirmed that early and sustained treatment was important to minimise longer-term problems.

Read other articles in this series at Living With CLIPPERS.

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Brief Repository Update

Colin the Caiman
I received an email from Dr Tobin at the Mayo Clinic recently to update me on their CLIPPERS Respository project. This is a systematic approach to CLIPPERS research which involves gathering as much information about patients as possible in one place to enable detailed research. If you have a diagnosis of CLIPPERS and want to take part, you can read more on the CLIPPERS Repository page.

Anyway, they are currently focussing on patients who had tissue samples available and they have 12 enrolled to date which they are very pleased with. This data is enabling them to take a more comprehensive look at the common features of the condition across different people with less doubt about the possibilities of other diseases being present. There should be some more news about this in the near future.

They are also still very much interested in recruiting people with a CLIPPERS diagnosis but who didn't have tissue samples taken. These people (like me) are still a valuable resource and will form a larger cohort which can be used in the next phase of the research. I have signed up and will update you about the process when I get my enrolment kit.

Apparently, some other laboratories are talking to the Mayo about the possibility of performing different analyses on some of the samples. I think this is particularly exciting as it means there may be a competitive element which will help drive the research. I am hopeful that with this kind of approach some progress can be made in finding out more about what CLIPPERS really is, and how to best treat it.

Read other articles in this series at Living With CLIPPERS.

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Saturday, 9 August 2014

More Medical Ponderings on CLIPPERS

Another paper from Dr Taieb appeared recently, again pondering on the relationship of CLIPPERS to other central nervous system disorders. In this short letter, "A central nervous system B-cell lymphoma arising two years after initial diagnosis of CLIPPERS", he considers a new case where an initial diagnosis of CLIPPERS was made which was based on tests including brain biopsy. Eighteen months later the patient relapsed whilst still taking Prednisolone and a diagnosis of presumed central nervous system B-cell lymphoma was made.
These cases are always worrying for those of us being treated for CLIPPERS. I guess the diagnosis had to change as the patient was no longer "responsive to steroids" which is required for CLIPPERS. But as ever, the question is, was this a simple case of mis-diagnosis under difficult conditions (not least as Lymphoma can also respond to steroids initially) or was it suggestive of CLIPPERS progressing to something else? Dr Taieb considers both these scenarios as possible and doesn't offer an opinion about which scenario he thinks most likely. It is also worth mentioning that Dr Taieb says that this case is one patient out of twelve studied in the 2012 French CLIPPERS cohort, the rest of whom (presumably) retained their original CLIPPERS diagnosis.

In other news, my shingles rash didn't get any worse and has largely cleared up. I have no idea if seven days of Acyclovir five times a day helped or not, but the rash stayed fairly localised. From what I have read, this was pretty mild for shingles as any discomfort stayed at the level of an annoying ache.

Read other articles in this series at Living With CLIPPERS.

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Living With CLIPPERS by Bill Crum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.