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New drug could reverse the damage of multiple sclerosis

April 14, 2015

A new drug could reverse the damage of multiple sclerosis, curing balance and vision problems for sufferers, researchers believe.

The disorder occurs when myelin, the fatty material which protects nerves is damaged, exposing the nerves and causing signalling problems between the brain and muscles. One of the earliest indicators of multiple sclerosis is a condition called optic neuritis in which the retina stops sending electrical signals to the brain, causing vision loss. But a new drug, called anti-LINGO-1, has been found to repair myelin, radically improving nerve signalling and completely restoring function in some cases. Although the subjects tested have not been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, more than half of people with optic neuritis go on to acquire the disorder.

Scientists say that crucially the new results prove that anti-LINGO-1 can repair myelin, and so should help people with MS. "This study, for the first time, provides biological evidence of repair of damaged myelin in the human brain, and advances the field of neuro-reparative therapies," said study lead author Dr Diego Cadavid, of Biogen, which is based Cambridge, Massachusetts. ‘Miracle’ stem cell therapy reverses multiple sclerosis. Thousands of people wrongly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, experts warn

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Around 100,000 people in Britain suffer from MS and there is currently no cure. All patients involved in the trial were given the new drug or a placebo once every four weeks for a total of six doses. Because optic neuritis only usually affects one eye, doctors evaluated the recovery of the optic nerve by comparing it with the normal healthy eye.

The results showed that 53 per cent of people on the drug saw their nerve signalling restored to normal or nearly normal while on average most saw signalling between the retina and the brain improve by 41 per cent. The scientists are now following up patients to find out of the signalling improvement will restored their vision. 

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Posted in: MS Research - Tagged (1): drug

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