Drug that may reverse Multiple Sclerosis hailed as a breakthrough

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Multiple Sclerosis sufferers across Northern Ireland were given fresh hope last night after scientists may have found a drug with the unprecedented power to halt advancement of the condition — and reverse damage already done.

The discovery is being hailed as the biggest advance against the debilitating neurological condition for more than a decade and could prove effective against other, similar diseases. The MS Society said it was "delighted" by the results.

Scientists believe the drug, alemtuzumab, may also be effective in other conditions. Further studies are under way into its use in autoimmune conditions such as rhemumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks itself, and in transplant surgery.

Alemtuzumab was developed 30 years ago by researchers at the University of Cambridge and is an established treatment for leukaemia. It was the first monoclonal antibody – a type of immune system booster – given to humans and heralded a new era of powerful medical treatments. Its creator, Cesar Milstein, was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1984.