Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Drug to Treat Multiple Sclerosis

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)


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  2. This new drug could really be a profound step forward for those suffering from MS. I have a neighbor who was diagnosed several years ago, and is just now feeling the effects on a broader scale, more than just minor numbness in the and hands. As you said, something like this does not cure or stop progression, but help to ease the symptoms. But there is still much to be said about improving quality of life for someone who is suffering. It is discoveries like these that open up more funding to lead to potential cures.

    Posted by Andrew King

  3. Slowly scientific researches is helping to find solutions for these mysterious diseases. Helping those who suffer to gain functionality in life.

    Posted by Anna Moreno

  4. I have recently been learning a lot of Multiple Sclerosis in my neuroscience class, and it is a really devastating disease that really alters the lives of those who are diagnosed so I think that this new drug could be a great step in treating those with MS. It is upsetting when people are diagnosed with an incurable disease and some medications come with serious side effects so hopefully this is a good step in the right direction.

    Posted by Amanda Makowski

  5. This is great news and an excellent step in the direction of finding a cure for MS. Any step or remedy or help is great news. Knowing this is a very serious disease and greatly affects the lives of the people who have it and those that surround them anything prolonging the mucsle abilities is hopeful. It is good to hear of hope in fields of incurablediseases.

    Posted by Amanda HOstetter


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