Guarded Optimism for Experimental MS Drug
A very close friend of mine has MS. When she got the diagnosis she thought her world had come to an end. We'd gone to high school together Lori played basketball and softball with one of my sisters. Lori's MS hasn't got to the crippling stages yet thank God. If you have or know someone who has MS you know MS is just one of the diseases that effect your body. It comes with a buffet of others. Some more painful than the MS it's self. I know that Lori would take that expermental drug if she had the chance to do so. Her pain some days it's so bad I only wish I could take it from her. She's like a sister to me it hurts my heart to see her in the pain she's in some days. I've taken her to her pain management appointments for trigger point injections. I've seen the treatments she's taken and how sick she has gotten at times. The pain in her legs so bad she's cried herself to sleep. When I think I feel bad some days I think of Lori everyday and thank God I don't have to feel the pain she feels everyday.
An experimental multiple sclerosis drug proved to be much more effective for the treatment of early MS than a widely used treatment in a study, but the efficacy came at a price.
Patients with early relapsing-remitting MS treated with the drug alemtuzumab had far fewer relapses and evidence of MS progression than patients treated with the approved treatment, interferon beta-1a.
Remarkably, some patients who got the experimental drug had less disability associated with their disease three years after starting the study than at entry, raising hopes that the treatment might stop the disease in its tracks before it progresses to its crippling stage.1 Alemtuzumab Death
But nearly one in four alemtuzumab-treated patients also developed treatment-related thyroid complications.
Even more troubling, 3% of the patients developed a potentially life-threatening autoimmune condition, which resulted in the death of one patient.
Study co-author Alasdair Coles, PhD, tells WebMD that phase III trials will soon be under way to determine if the benefits of alemtuzumab outweigh the risks in patients with early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
According to the National MS Society, relapsing-remitting MS accounts for 85% of people who are first diagnosed with MS.
The study appears in the Oct. 23 issue of TheNew England Journal of Medicine.
"The phase II results are very exciting, but this is not ready for routine use," he says. "We need to know more about the long-term effectiveness and adverse effects. That is our challenge over the next few years."
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