Doctors close to stopping MS

March 17, 2008 10:28:31 AM PDT
About 400,000 Americans have multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease that causes difficulty walking, loss of balance and vision, and an inability to control breathing. But doctors are testing a new drug that could stop the disease in its tracks! For Cathy Gregory, independence doesn't come easy. Reaching into the cabinet takes every ounce of energy she can muster. And without this wheelchair, she's immobile. Cathy's fighting a debilitating form of multiple sclerosis known as secondary progressive MS, or SPMS.

"It's a slow, relentless process where they just get progressively worse," said Steven Cohen, MD, PhD.

About 40-percent of MS patients have SPMS. Cathy has tried every drug available with no results.

"I was on Rebif and I was on Novantrone, which is a chemotherapy drug and I believe it was eight doses that I went through. It didn't work for me," said Cathy Gregory, has multiple sclerosis.

While there are effective drugs for traditional MS, there are no current treatments for SPMS. But a new injectable drug, MBP-82-98, could help.

It's similar to an allergy shot. Patients who have m-s lose the protective layer, myelin, which allows the central nervous system to send messages to the body. This twice a year injection introduces a protein that helps the immune system build tolerance to the disease.

"What we hope is that infusion of this small peptide, or small protein, will prevent or stop or at least, hopefully slow this progressive, downhill course that these patients have," said Cohen.

Neurologist Steven Cohen says this drug won't offer patients a cure, but it could give them something almost as good.

"People can live a semi-normal, almost normal life and plan for the future and know what to expect," said Cohen.

Cathy is hopeful.

"To know that this drug could start to slow down the process, that gives me somewhat of an encouragement that, yes, I can take care of myself," said Cathy Gregory.

Trials of the drug are currently taking place across the U.S. and Canada. Doctor Cohen says it could be several years before the drug is widely available, but he says current tests have been very successful.


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