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Thread: Study finds leukaemia drug can halt, reverse effects of MS

  1. #1

    Study finds leukaemia drug can halt, reverse effects of MS

    LONDON (AFP) – Researchers at the University of Cambridge said Thursday they have found that a drug originally developed to treat leukaemia can halt and even reverse the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS).
    In trials, alemtuzumab reduced the number of attacks in sufferers and also helped them recover lost functions, apparently allowing damaged brain tissue to repair so that individuals were less disabled than at the start of the study.
    "The ability of an MS drug to promote brain repair is unprecedented," said Dr Alasdair Coles, a lecturer at Cambridge university's department of clinical neurosciences, who coordinated many aspects of the study.
    "We are witnessing a drug which, if given early enough, might effectively stop the advancement of the disease and also restore lost function by promoting repair of the damaged brain tissue."
    The MS Society, Britain's largest support charity for those affected by the condition, said it was "delighted" at the trial's results, which must be followed up with more research before the drug can be licensed.
    "This is the first drug that has shown the potential to halt and even reverse the debilitating effects of MS and this news will rightly bring hope to people living with the condition day in, day out," said head of research Lee Dunster.
    MS is an auto-immune disease that affects millions of people worldwide, including almost 100,000 in Britain and 400,000 in the United States.
    It is caused by the body's immune system attacking nerve fibres in the central nervous system, and can lead to loss of sight and mobility, depression, fatigue and cognitive problems. There is no cure, and few effective treatments.
    In the trial, 334 patients diagnosed with early-stage relapsing-remitting MS who had not previously been treated were given alemtuzumab or interferon beta-1a, one of the most effective licensed therapies for similar MS cases.
    After three years, alemtuzumab was found to reduce the number of attacks the patients suffered by 74 percent over the other treatment, and reduce the risk of sustained accumulation of disability by 71 percent over interferon beta-1a.
    Many individuals who took alemtuzumab also recovered some of their lost functions, becoming less disabled by the end, while the disabilities of the other patients worsened, the study in the New England Journal of Medicine said.
    Alastair Compston, professor of neurology and head of the clinical neurosciences department at Cambridge, said alemtuzumab was the "most promising" experimental drug for the treatment of MS.
    He expressed hope that further trials "will confirm that it can both stabilise and allow some recovery of what had previously been assumed to be irreversible disabilities".
    Alemtuzumab was developed in Cambridge and has been licensed for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

  2. #2
    Alemtuzumab was developed in Cambridge and has been licensed for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
    Which mean that it's possible to get one's dirty hands on it?

  3. #3
    This drug prevents autoimmune attack, which is the cause of MS. It was a drug that was originally developed to treat leukemia, which is of course a form of cancer of white blood cells. Wise.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young View Post
    This drug prevents autoimmune attack, which is the cause of MS. It was a drug that was originally developed to treat leukemia, which is of course a form of cancer of white blood cells. Wise.
    So a ground breaking, dare devil neuro type doc might prescribe this off-label (and probably without insurance help) for someone with any type of MS that the current drugs don't help?
    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.

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    Doesnt this work by allowing remyleination?

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    Docs over here say it looks promising. It might help to restore myelin. That it might be reversible is great. But it is a drug with serous side effects, which one has tried out on some patients. -A bigger wider clinical trial is underway, where hospitals in Norway and Sweden also will be part of the trial.

    A doc here says these phase II studies are not large enough to give answers on effect and side effects but a large program with phase III studies are now underway. http://www.ms.no/cgi-bin/msforeningen/imaker?id=22897
    Last edited by Leif; 10-27-2008 at 06:17 PM.

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    What are the side effects Leif? Do you know?

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    Quote Originally Posted by IanTPoulter View Post
    What are the side effects Leif? Do you know?
    Let me see, -it says alemtuzumab slows down the immune system quite a lot, so that the risk of serious infections could be a case. This has so fare happened in relatively few, but the tendency is increased risk of less serious to moderate serious infections. It also says that one incident of meningitis has occurred due to listeria, probably triggered by the treatment of alemtuzumab. It also says that experiences with Tysabri has shown that rare but serious infections and other rare side effects are not detected until several patients has been treated over a long time. But what is already known now is that alemtuzumab might trig off other autoimmune illnesses, it says. Most common are metabolism disturbance, which occurred in approximately 25 percent of the patients. But metabolism disturbance is possible to treat and thereby seldom is serious, compared to MS, it says. On the other hand, one patient died of cerebral hemorrhage due to the thrombocytes, which are supposed to stop the bleeding, was destroyed. But that happened before the researchers understood that the drug could destroy thrombocytes, and because of that it was regularly taken samples to detect such early on. In the future it says that the destruction of thrombocytes will be monitored and most likely treated, so that ‘hopefully and probably’ it will not give such serious effects.

  9. #9
    This is the most amazing news of possible help that I've heard in three years of having TM. Please keep us posted on any and all findings!

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