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Drug shows promise for treating progressive form of multiple sclerosis

Understanding a medication used in multiple sclerosis.

The results from a new study on multiple sclerosis have just been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and they’re showing some promise in how one form of the disease can be better treated.

It turns out the team at the University of Cincinnati had one of the highest enrollments of participants for it in the country.

Dr. Aram Zabeti, the director of the Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis at UC, has been part of the team conducting this new MS medication trial. It’s funded by the National Institutes of Health.

MS impacts the central nervous system. Dr. Zabeti says inflammation may be to blame for some of the symptoms, but not for those who have a progressive form of the disease.

“Which means that they don’t have as much that type — they might have that type — but their main disability happened because of the neurodegeneration, not as much inflammation,” Dr. Zabeti said.

The problem, Dr. Zabeti said, is that, when it comes to medications, they’re not working on the progressive form of the disease. But the National Institutes of Health has just announced that, according to this new study, that could change.

MS patients in this trial were given a medication called ibudilast. Not only did researchers discover the medication side effect profile was very favorable, they also found, when it comes to progressive MS, ibudilast appears to offer new hope, even though Dr. Zabeti admits they’re not sure how it works.

“We think that it lowers the inflammation and has neuroprotective effect, which means that the nerve cells can live longer and live healthier,” Dr. Zabeti said.

Dr. Zabeti points out a couple of very important things we need to know right now about this research. The next phase needs to be completed, so we won’t likely see it on the market for a little while, but what they found was pretty remarkable, not in body function, but what was happening in the brain.

“The study shows that the ibudilast can lower the risk of nerve damage and atrophy in the whole brain and the cortex,” he said.

Read on: Drug shows promise for treating progressive form of multiple sclerosis

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