Multiple Sclerosis Drug First of Its Kind, Treats Progressive Form of the Disease

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease in which the immune system attacks myelin. Myelin is the sheath that surrounds the neurons' axons. If you're following this, you're either part of the medical field, or you know someone with multiple sclerosis.

In most cases of MS, symptoms come and go. In 15 percent of cases, however, multiple sclerosis worsens steadily. There have been no treatments available for people afflicted with that form of the disease. There will be starting as early as 2017, however.

According to a report from Scientific American, just this past September, pharmaceutical company Hoffmann–La Roche announced they achieved positive results from three large clinical trials of a drug called Ocrelizumab,. It is an injectable antibody medication that targets the body's B cells, and works for both relapsing and progressive multiple sclerosis.

Up until this point, most patients have received the best results with a drug called interferon beta-1a. Ocrelizumab is believed to be even more effective. Even better, it also slowed the advance of symptoms in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Stephen Hauser is a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco. He was involved in the trials.

“The drug has dramatic effects on relapsing MS, and we finally have our foot in the door with the progressive form,” he says.

Scientists working on the root causes of multiple sclerosis are excited about the may Ocrelizumab works on those with the disease.

"These results give evidence that the inflammatory and the degenerative components of MS are related,” Hauser says. “The big question now is, 'If we begin treatment really early, can we protect relapsing patients from developing the progressive problems later on?'”

Hoffmann–La Roche cleared the last big FDA hurdle with these trials, and plans to file for approval to treat both forms of multiple sclerosis with Ocrelizumab in 2016. This means the drug could be on the market as early as 2017.

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.