The effects of MS have been devastating to people afflicted by the disease. New research has brought treatments to combat the progression of the illness, yet relapses after remission have remained perplexing and frustrating to physicians and patients alike. Interferon has been a tremendous help, but patients often experienced flu-like symptoms after receiving interferon. Treatment with steroids has been problematical as well.
The results with Natalizumab (Antegren) are showing impressive results: relapses of MS are reduced by two-thirds (compared to placebo) The drug mechanism works by inhibiting the migration of aggressive auto-immune cells into such tissues as the brain, where they would cause inflammation, which in turn would cause MS lesions. Dr. Paul O’Connor is the lead investigator of the trial and chief of the MS clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and he reports that this new medication gives double the effect compared to previous drugs against MS. MRI scans also showed 90% less new lesions compared to patients who took placebo (ineffective “fake” medication). Compared to previous MS drugs the medication is safe and well tolerated. The administration of the drug has to be done intravenously, so the patient would need to make a trip to a clinic or hospital once a month.
On the strength of the excellent results the approval process of the drug is carried out only after one year of the study. A second study involving approximately 1,200 patients is ongoing, and the manufacturers of natazulinab (Elan Corp. and Biogen Idec Inc.) are anticipating regulatory approval in the United States. They are also seeking the approval of the drug with Health Canada.
Addendum: This drug was withdrawn from the market due to unacceptable side-effects as can be seen from this link. Here is a review of multiple sclerosis treatments that offers an alternative approach.
Reference: The Medical Post, November 30, 2004, page 49
Last edited October 27, 2014