Cancer Drug Shows Promise in MS Treatment

A relatively small study involving the use of a generic cancer drug in treating multiple sclerosis is showing signs of a promising new approach to treating the incurable disease. The promising treatment makes use of the drug cyclophosphamide, which has already been around for over fifty years, as a possible new treatment approach for multiple sclerosis, researchers said.

In the said study, a total of nine patients with multiple sclerosis were tracked for two years while taking high doses of the immune suppressing drug cyclophosphamide. Five of the said patients showed no signs of disease activity while the four other patients showed dramatic improvement, according to Dr. Douglas Kerr of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The nine patients in the study were given the generic cancer drug in large doses intravenously.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks myelin, a fatty substance found in the central nervous system, treating it as a foreign body. The myelin acts as as an insulating shield for the nerve cells in the spine, allowing it to provide effective communication between the brain and the other parts of the body. A damaged myelin sheath can affect electrical signals between the body and the different body parts, resulting in symptoms typical of multiple sclerosis. Such symptoms include, vision problems, coordination and balance difficulties, muscle weakness and fatigue, thinking and memory problems, just to name a few.

The patients included in the study were suffering form relapsing multiple sclerosis, the most common type of MS where patients experience periods of debilitating symptoms followed by periods of remission without showing any of the symptoms. All of the patients in the said study were considered to be the some of the worst cases of multiple sclerosis, with eight of them having no success with all the other treatments and the ninth having no previous treatment for the disease.

After two years of the treatment with cyclophosphamide, the study patients showed an average reduction in disability of about 40 percent. The study group also showed a promising 87 percent improvement during tests to measure mental and physical function. Not only that, brain imaging of the patients also showed that there was a substantial decrease in the average number of brain lesions from 6.5 to 1.2.

The promising results of the study could introduce an advance in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The researchers aim to start a bigger clinical trial involving other medical centers and a larger number of patients to try out the said treatment approach on a larger scale.

Source:today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?storyID=2008-06-09T214808Z_01_N09228052_RTRUKOC_0_US-MS-TREATMENT.xml

 

 
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