Study: Drug Reverses MS Brain Damage

Doctors hail 'major breakthrough' in treatment
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2008 7:19 AM CDT
Multiple sclerosis sufferer Monica Spann, 37, sorts the pills she must take every day in her new home in Capitol Heights, Md., on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008.    (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – Doctors are hailing what appears to be a huge breakthrough in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, the BBC reports. A drug used to treat leukemia reversed some of the brain damage caused by MS, researchers found, leaving sufferers less disabled at the end of the 3-year study than they had been at the start. Previous treatments only managed to slow the disease.

"Somehow the drug is promoting brain repair," said one of the study authors. "That's never been seen before and goes counter to everything we thought." The drug, alemtuzumab, could be licensed as soon as 2010 if further trials are successful, but its severe potential side effects mean it may only be considered suitable for sufferers of the most aggressive form of MS.