Science

Multiple Sclerosis Management Revolutionized With New Treatments: Cure Soon?

By Douglas K. Barclay , May 01, 2013 12:47 PM EDT
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Many people believe that a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis is a death sentence. Like many diseases however, not only is this false, but people can in fact thrive in a normal environment with the disease.  Multiple Sclerosis is an immune deficiency disease that damages the outer axons of the brain and spinal cord.

M.S. impacts the lives of more than 2 million people across the globe. For years it was thought that within a decade of diagnosis, those with M.S would be wheelchair-bound. A recent study has found that because of the impact of new treatments, this may also soon be false.

According to a new report by Dr. James D. Bowen, medical director of the MS Center at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, new treatments in the field can tame "a damaging immune response, these therapies reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms and may slow the progression of the disease."

One of these new treatments is fingolimod, a pill that stops harmful blood cells from exiting the lymph nodes and attacking the brain and spinal cord. By isolating these cells out of regular blood circulation, the advancement of the disease can be halted. Teriflunomide, a similar drug also focuses on the regulation of white blood cell activity. This pill allows for normal cells to circulate, as they should, while isolating the immune cells that can progress the disease.

The report also discusses BG-12, a psoriasis medication now thought to reduce inflammation in the nerves and help protect healthy neurons. Other continued options for patients include bone marrow transplants and more aggressive drugs. These functions can often prevent the progression of the disease but are so intense that many patients see regression in different, otherwise healthy areas of their bodies.

Though there is no set cure for M.S., Dr. Bowen believes that by implementing some of the new procedures, patients can have more time to manage their disease. Bowen says "until such treatments are ready, the goal is mainly to keep patients from getting worse by taming the immune system. The latest medicines seem to make a significant difference."

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