A new oral drug may soon become available for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). According to recent medical research, the medication is safe and effective for combating the disease. Statistics show that nearly 400,000 of Americans have MS, a debilitating and chronic disease that attacks myelin. Myelin is a sheath that protects the spinal cord and nerve fibers in the brain.
Symptoms of MS
Typically, patients are diagnosed with MS after feeling tingling or numbness in their hands and feet. Some patients also have dizzy spells and require a MRI to determine if there is neurological damage. Blood tests are also given that may lead to a diagnosis of MS.
Other patients may also have symptoms when there is a combination of gluten and MS. Gluten intolerance has also been linked to MS in some patients. For some patients, a gluten-free diet eases symptoms.
Similar to wire insulation, myelin is needed to ensure the nerves function properly. When the myelin becomes inflamed and damaged, nerve fibers follow and can cause scarring to tissues. Patients begin to exhibit symptoms from the nerve damage that can be as simple as tingling in their feet and fingers. Severe damage can lead to blindness or paralysis. Nearly 85 percent of MS patients vacillate between symptom flare-ups and partial or complete recovery.
Results of Study
Nearly 1,500 patients from 28 different countries participated in a two year study. Researchers examined the effects that the experimental oral drug had on patients. Known as BG-12 in the study, this drug was taken by patients to determine whether flare-ups decreased. One group of patients received the drug; a second group received the placebo. Patients were also evaluated for side effects.
Largely, the results presented encouraging news. Patients who received the drug saw a reduction in flare-ups by 44 percent after taking the drug two times a day. When given the drug three times daily, chances of flare-ups decreased by 51 percent.
Thus far, BG-12 has promising outcomes compared to a current drug that is used for MS patients. Flare-ups are reduced by just 29 percent for patients taking the medication currently available. In addition, a MRI showed patients receiving the new oral drug had fewer scarring on their brain and nerves.
Wider use of the drug in the U.S. can offer hope to more MS patients. But in the meantime, more research is needed before BG-12 is introduced to a wider market. While two years is the standard length for this type of research, questions still remain about the adequacy of the study. More time is needed to determine long-term effects that mirror the length of time a person experiences MS.
The study also revealed some mild side effects from BG-12. Some patients reported experiencing an upset stomach and flushing. Generally, these side effects decreased within one month after patients took BG-12.
Pending FDA Approval
Now that the study is over, researchers must wait for FDA approval. If granted, BG-12 will become one of three oral medications available for MS patients. Doctors believe that the need is great to have safe oral medication options to treat patients with mild MS. This study launches further research potential to develop drugs that effectively treat MS and provide more choices for patients and doctors.
More follow-up studies might be required before gaining FDA approval, which is normal for new therapies. Additional research will offer more insight into the long-term impact of BG-12 on the immune system and nervous system. Until further study and FDA approval are achieved, patients who participated in the initial study may continue to benefit from the results.
Those who participated in the study may continue to take BG-12 even though the FDA has not approved the drug for broader use. Researchers hope that more patients will be able to benefit from the positive results.
For now, the results of the study offers hope for MS patients who want to improve their quality of life.
Image Credit: e-MagineArt.com
Derek is an active blogger. The following article is for gluten and ms.