The medication natalizumab is being tested for treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Most treatments for multiple sclerosis concentrate on managing symptoms and slowing disease progression. A recent phase-3 trial investigated whether natalizumab is effective in treating secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
Canada has one of the highest incidences of multiple sclerosis (MS) worldwide. An autoimmune disease, MS targets the protective covering of nerve cells, impeding or blocking the transmission of neural impulses. The resulting symptoms vary and may include fatigue, weakness, impaired senses, and cognitive and emotional disturbances.
During the initial stages of MS, patients commonly have relapses characterized by flare-ups of symptoms followed by remission periods without symptoms. These attacks can become gradually more disabling, and as time goes on, patients enter the secondary progressive stage of MS where relapses no longer occur but the disease becomes steadily worse.
Natalizumab has shown to be effective in reducing inflammation during relapses of MS
Treatment for relapses focuses on the peripheral immune response and the intrathecal immune response within the spinal canal. The drug natalizumab has shown high effectiveness in suppressing intrathecal inflammation in relapsing MS. It inhibits the movement of white blood cells across the blood-brain barrier and disrupts the recruitment of inflammatory cells into the central nervous system, reducing inflammation.
To expand on this research, investigators launched a phase-3 clinical trial studying whether it can safely treat and slow disease progression in non-relapsing secondary progressive MS. Their work was published in The Lancet Neurology.
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