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New Drug Offers Hope for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

A new drug offers hope to people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).In clinical trials, the drug reduced nerve damaged in patients by almost 50%.

Research tested an oral drug called ibudilast in patients with progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 255 Multiple Sclerosis patients were recruited from medical centers and were randomly assigned to take either ibudilast or placebo pills for 96 weeks.

MRI brain scans were performed to track how the disease’s was affecting the patients. Results showed that patients on the drug had 48% less atrophy in their brain tissue. Ibudilast reduces the nerve damage by slowing brain shrinkage rate. The drug is also well tolerated with only limited side effects. Main side effects observed were gastrointestinal, nausea, diarrhoea and headaches.

Further studies will determine how reducing brain atrophy will effect thinking, walking and other problems in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Researchers believe that this could lead to potential new therapy for progressive MS.

As of yet, there is no cure for any form of Multiple Sclerosis MS is an autoimmune, degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

It occurs when the immune system attacks the protective coating of nerve cells called myelin. When myelin starts to break down, communication between brain cells slows down. This causes damage in and around the nerves in the brain and spinal cord leading to muscle weakness and problems with movement, balance and vision.

Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. It is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults often diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 40 and affects 3 times more women than men.

There are two forms of progressive MS; Primary and Secondary progressive MS.

Primary progressive MS is less common, accounting for about 10 to 15% of all cases with PPMS, neurological function is impaired and gets worse as the disease progresses.

Secondary progressive MS develops after an initial diagnosis of relapsing MS.

Symptoms get worse steadily with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions.

A rare form of MS, only 5% is called Progressive Relapsing MS (PRMS).PRMS is characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning.

Reference: NEJM

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