Study: New medication could help MS patients


March 19, 2012 9:18:27 AM PDT
More than 400,000 Americans are living with multiple sclerosis?a chronic unpredictable disease that attacks the central nervous system. Now, new discoveries could help scientists come up with new treatments for the disease and even prevent its onset.

Susan Dobroff has always pictured herself as an outdoors woman.

"It's like being in touch with God," said Dobroff.

Not even Multiple Sclerosis could dampen her active lifestyle. 2 years after being diagnosed, she started law school.

"I realized, you know, you've been thinking about going to law school for a long time so gotta do it sooner rather than later," said Dobroff.

But 10 years after her diagnosis, Dobroff began to lose her ability to walk. Eventually, her legal career came to a gridding halt too.

"Lawyers don't need to walk and run in order to practice law but we do have to think," said Dobroff.

Now, Japanese Macaques could hold the key to helping people like Dobroff. Scientists at the Oregon National Primate Center have discovered a new herpes virus in monkeys that causes an MS-like disease in macaques.

These brain lesions are a classic indicator of inflammation in people with MS. The discovery could help scientists solve how the disease develops and stop its onset.

An active ingredient found in saffron called Crocin, could also help MS patients. Researchers at the University of Alberta studied the ingredient and found it could help protest brain cells from being damaged.

"That's the ultimate goal. It's a huge finding," said Scott W. Wong, PhD Professor and Senior Scientist at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute.

From monkeys to medication, a new drug called Ocrelizumab is also showing promise in treating MS. In preliminary studies, the antibody drug reduced the amount of brain lesions in patients. Findings that could one day help people like Dobroff stay active.