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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
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New MS Drug called 'groundbreaking': VIDEO

250,000 to 300,000 people in the United States Have multiple sclerosis. A new drug awaiting FDA approval, has been called groundbreaking.

"Everything was getting cloudy, like I was in heaven. I could only see like a part of somebody's face like a circle, a chin an eye. I couldn't see the whole face. Then I started to panic," recalled Mary Allen.

The loss of vision came out of the blue,

Diagnosed in 2005 with multiple sclerosis, she'd been doing so well that she'd gone of her medication.

Her daughter Alyssa was a 5-year-old when the attack hit.

Traditional multiple sclerosis drugs failed to stop the vision loss.

It got so bad, she couldn't even read the big "E" on the eye chart.

That all changed when she joined a clinical trial testing a new drug - Ocrelizumab.

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic and progressive disease of the nervous system. For reasons that aren't clear, the immune system -- rather than protect -- attacks the myelin sheath that protects certain nerve fibers.

As those fibers lose their protection, disease symptoms, including vision loss, appear.

"It affects lymphocytes that are of a B cell subtype that are a kind of master surveillance cells for tissue protection," explained Dr. Keith Edwards of the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Northeastern New York. "The lymphocyte in a disease like MS attack the myelin, not just the germs."

Ocrelizumab, the new drug, goes after, what Dr. Edwards calls, misguided lymphocytes.

The results, while not for everyone, have been impressive.

"So the reduction of attack rate was 46 percent. Reduction of new enhanced or new acute lesion was 94 percent on MRI," Dr. Edwards explained. Moreover, it appears the drug may reverse some of the damage.

"I mean it's not perfect but it's way better than it was. I can drive again," said Allen.

"But when a person gets better in terms of their vision it's not like she's exercising more. This is probably remylination. But that has yet to be proven," cautioned Edwards.

Ocrelizumab has been tested on patients suffering relapsing remitting MS, the most common form of the disease and also a more rare type that has no approved treatments yet, primary progressive.

It's administered by IV every six months. So far, Dr. Edwards says bad side effects have been minimal.

There are still a few hurdles for the drug to clear but it's on track to go to the FDA for approval early next year and if it gets the green light it would be available by 2018.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by KCENTV
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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