5 nov. 2011

The First Oral Treatment for MS

The First Oral Treatment for MS
STANFORD, CA (Ivanhoe Newswire) – 

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects about 400 thousand Americans. The body's immune system turns on itself and attacks the brain. Until now, patients had to rely on injections for help. Now,  the very first oral medication for MS has patients talking.

"It’s every step you take, you feel the pain," Lisa Adams told Ivanhoe.

"I could be in a wheelchair. I could go blind," Lizette Garcia said.

Lisa Adams and Lizette Garcia were both diagnosed with MS  in the prime of their lives. It’s a disease that slowly robs patients of their ability to walk, see and even think clearly.

"I feel like it's unstoppable all of a sudden," Lisa said.

For years, the only treatments for patients with MS had to be injected. Now, the FDA has approved the first oral treatment called Gilenya.

"Patients are excited about that because it is an oral product. We have never had that before,"Jeffrey Dunn, M.D.,  a clinical neuro-immunologist at Stanford School of Medicine, said.

In MS, the body's immune system attacks myelin, a substance that protects nerves. Gilenya works by holding certain immune cells in the lymph nodes so they can't reach the myelin. In clinical studies, Gilenya reduced MS relapses by 54% compared to a placebo and by 52% compared to another common injectable drug. But some say doctors should be cautious when prescribing the oral medication.  

"What we don't know is what can happen long-term, and we don't know that until we have a lot more patients on the drug," Melissa Ortega, M.D., a clinical instructor and MS specialist at the University of Miami said.

Gilenya can also cause serious side effects like slowed heart rate, liver problems, headaches and a build-up of fluid in the eye. Still,  lisa says she'd give it a try.

"I’m so excited to think about maybe not having to go back to injections," Lisa said.
Lizette has been taking the oral drug. So far, so good.
"I’ve had no side effects. I have more energy, and I feel so good, and I’m happy about that," Lizette said.

Currently, there are four other oral medications in the final phase of clinical trial testing that could become FDA approved soon. One interesting fact about MS, doctor Dunn says the closer you live to the equator, the less at risk you are for the disease. Your chances greatly increase the further away you live.

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The First Oral Treatment for MS -- In Depth Doctor's Interview
Jeffrey Dunn, MD, a clinical neuro-immunologist at Stanford School of Medicine talks about a new oral option for MS patients
Are you seeing more MS patients now than before and why?
Dr. Dunn: I think so. One of the biggest differences has been the patients that we are seeing MS in, traditionally in the past MS has been thought of as a disease of Northern Europeans and Scandinavian those of that sort of ethnic heritage, the Northern European, Scandinavian heritage. As with any autoimmune disease females more than males, three to one ratio. But classically MS has been seen as a disease of Caucasians, light skinned, light eyed, light haired young adults. But increasingly in this area we’re seeing that MS affects not just folks of that ethic heritage but those of Indian ethnic heritage, those of Asian ethnic heritage, Hispanic and African American as well. Historically in the past these sort of have been described as nonconventional groups, the not classical case of MS. It’s been thought that MS in those individuals, the non-white individuals has been rare in the past. In fact we know now that’s not true MS affects all races and our ability and our awareness of the frequency with which it’s affecting these non-traditional groups is absolutely increasing.

There are more white people than Indian or other ethnic people is that the reason that we haven’t seen as much? http://www.ivanhoe.com/channels/p_channelstory.cfm?storyid=28179
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