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Breakthrough Multiple Sclerosis Drug, Ocrelizumab, Slows Down Brain Damage

By Christie Abagon , Dec 22, 2016 04:31 PM EST
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A drug that has been called a "landmark" by doctors may finally be the cure for multiple sclerosis.  It has undergone trials with successful results, and some scientists say this treatment is the hope for the future.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is often a disabling disease in which an abnormal response of the body's immune system is directed against the central nervous system.  MS can either get worse, called primary progressive MS, or come in waves, known as a relapsing remitting MS. 

Trial Shows Ocrelizumab May Treat Relapsing MS

Ocrelizumab is the first ever treatment for people with progressive multiple sclerosis.  According to Daily Mail, it has been reported that only 33 percent of patients taking the drug deteriorated over time, compared to 39 per cent taking a placebo. 

The research, which was published in New England Journal of Medicine and which was sponsored by pharmaceutical giant, Roche, show that patients who took ocrelizumab showed less brain loss scans while scoring better on the time needed to walk 25ft or 7.6m.  Two further trials prove the drug's ability to treat relapsing MS. 

Ocrelizumab Phase Three Trial Tested Positive In Primary Progressive MS

Ocrelizumab phase three trial is the first trial to yield positive results in primary progressive MS treatment.  The drug kills B cells, a part of the immune system which are involved in the assault of the myelin sheath, or the sheath that prevents nerves from working correctly and means messages struggle to get from the brain to the body.

However, some doctors warn about possible side effects that this drug may cause, and that this kind of medication may be expensive.  US FDA has extended its review of Ocrelizumab as well as the European Medicines Agency.  The drug needs to be licensed and assessed for cost-effectiveness before it can be sold. 

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