New Pill Helps Reduce MS Relapse

A study by a team of researchers from the University of London reported of a new drug that can dramatically reduce the chances of multiple sclerosis relapses and the further deterioration caused by the said disease. The study showed that taking a set of cladribine tablets a few times annually can help reduce the chances of a relapse among multiple sclerosis patients by as much as 50 percent. The results came from a major trial that has been recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Neurology in Seattle.

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that comes as a result of the body’s own immune system attacking and damaging the central nervous system. The damage can cause certain problems such as disturbing the transmission of electrical signals from the brain to the other parts of the body and vice versa. The damage can come up to such a point as to cause problems associated with muscle control, body coordination, vision as well as memory.

The said study, conducted by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, involved over 1,300 patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. Participants of the study were given either two or four treatment courses of cladribine or a placebo for a year. A treatment course consists of a tablet taken each day for a period of four or five days. All in all, the patients were only given from eight to as long as twenty days of treatment each year. The MRI scans of the participating patients were also taken and monitored during the course of the study which took about two years including patient follow up.

The results of the study showed that MS patients who took the cladribine tablets were 55 percent less likely to go into a relapse and are 30 percent less likely to suffer from worsening disabilities due to multiple sclerosis.  Cladribine works by suppressing the actions of the immune system, thereby lessening its impact of damage on the central nervous system for people with multiple sclerosis.

According to lead researcher Professor Gavin Giovannoni of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, which is part of Queen Mary, University of London, "These results are really exciting. MS can be a very debilitating illness and at the moment treatment options remain limited. Having an effective oral therapy will have a major impact for people with MS."

"Our study shows that cladribine tablets prevent relapses and slow down the progression of the disease making patients feel better. Importantly, it does so without the need for constant injections that are associated with unpleasant side effects", Prof. Giovannoni further added.

Source: Queen Mary, University of London. "New Pill To Treat Multiple Sclerosis." ScienceDaily 30 April 2009. 5 May 2009 .

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