Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease that attacks the central nervous system and typically occurs in young adults ages 20-40 years old. MS is characterized by a disappearance and degeneration of the myelin covering on their nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Some researchers think that MS is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune system attacks the myelin. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include difficulty in walking, balance and coordination as well as fatigue, numbness, bladder dysfunction and spasticity. There are four main types of multiple sclerosis, the most common initially diagnosed being Relapsing-Remitting MS.
The FDA recently approved a new drug called Ampyra which became available to patients in March 2010. This drug is marketed to improve the walking ability in patients with any of the four courses of MS. Ampyra is a sustained- released oral tablet of dalfampridine with the chemical name 4-aminopyridine and is used as part of a symptomatic therapy. This type of therapy concentrates on a particular aspect of a disease but does not change the underlying cause or limit the damage that may follow. Contraindications of the drug include seizures or renal impairment.
The mechanism by which the drug works is as a broad spectrum potassium channel blocker. The Dalfampridine is taken orally and once in the system blocks potassium channels on the surface of nerve fibers. By inhibiting potassium channel it is thought that it may improve conduction of action potentials in nerve fibers that have lost fatty insulation due to the demyelination of the axons. I think it is great that medical research is coming so far and that we are finding treatments for more and more ailments that we once thought to be hopeless. Multiple sclerosis is just one of the many debilitating diseases that will one day have a cure, but for now new treatments are improving the lives of those that suffer from it.
Posted by Asia Barnes (10)