Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an incurable condition that affects more than two million people worldwide. It is a debilitating disease that severely lowers the quality of life for sufferers and can result in their inability to walk, talk or function normally. It attacks the body by activating the immune system to essentially eat away at the protective coverings around your nerves (called myelin), which then creates a barrier, stopping communications between your brain and your nerves. Basically, people with MS lose control of their bodies as their nervous systems erode. Their brains might be telling their legs to take a step, but their legs refuse to budge.
There are different types of MS that have varying symptoms. Sometimes they flare up; sometimes they are less intense and patients can restore function and clear communication between the brain and nerves.
Now, some research I stumbled upon the other day is suggesting one branch of MS, called relapsing-remitting, may be contained or stopped through a new cell treatment.
Relapsing-remitting MS causes periods of intense symptoms when the disease is extremely active. Other times, seemingly out of nowhere, the symptoms disappear and sufferers regain nearly full control over their bodies. It’s a truly baffling—and extremely frustrating—phenomenon.
The research team looked at how a drug called ofatumumab worked to target and harness the production of B-cells in the immune system. B-cells are white blood cells that were identified to impact the progression of relapsing-remitting MS. By targeting them, doctors believed they could slow production and hopefully stop MS flare-ups and any further progression of the disease. Ofatumumab is not currently approved for MS treatment.
Patients were given either ofatumumab or a placebo while having brain lesions monitored for 12 weeks. Brain lesions were detected by administering brain scans every four weeks. The researchers found that although the placebo and the medicated group had lesion activity during the first four weeks of the trial, participants taking ofatumumab showed less disease activity the longer the trial went. When B-cells were kept at low levels, the appearance of new brain lesions was significantly reduced, meaning the brain could clearly communicate with nerves throughout the body.
The medicated group, on average, experienced less than one new lesion per year, compared to 16 before the anti-B-cell treatment. This is a significant improvement, but it should be noted that the developer of the drug paid for the research; therefore, further third-party testing is required to bring the results some more validity.
That said, if this is an indication of things to come, it’s very good news for people with MS. If the proliferation of the disease can be stopped in its tracks by attacking B-cells, we might finally see a cure to, or at least a significant defense against, an aggressive and debilitating condition. There were some side effects suffered by a small percentage of users (only five percent), but it’s unlikely any of them were worse than the pain caused by MS.
As far as current natural treatments go, there’s not much you can do to combat MS. Some people tout various diets, but the truth is that none of them are proven to work conclusively. Diets high in omegas 3 and 6 have shown mixed findings; the same goes for diets high in vitamin D supplementation. Severe vitamin D deficiencies are common in people with MS, but vitamin D supplementation isn’t necessarily going to help. If anything, try getting more sunlight and eating foods with substantial vitamin D content to boost your vitamin D levels naturally.
Source for Today’s Article:
Dallas, M.E., “Cell-Targeted Therapy Shows Promise Against MS,” HealthDay News, WebMD web site, April 24, 2014; http://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/news/20140424/cell-targeted-therapy-shows-early-promise-against-ms.