MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A drug used to treat multiple sclerosis may combat physical disabilities associated with the neurological disease, researchers suggest in a new study.
In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers from the American Academy of Neurology tested the effectiveness of the drug alemtuzumab in restoring physical capabilities lost in patients with relapsing-remitting MS, the most common form of multiple sclerosis. Authors of the study note that while considerable research has been done for slowing the progress of the disease, little is known about reversing its effects.
"While many MS drugs slow the progress of disability, there have been little data about the ability of current treatments to help restore function previously lost to MS," study author Gavin Giovannoni said in a press release.
Investigators analyzed the drug by treating 426 participants with alemtuzumab, and treating 202 people with the drug interferon beta-1a. After the drugs were administered, researchers assessed the level of disability every 3 months for 2 years. By using a 10-point grading scale, they found 28 percent the group that received alemtuzumab demonstrated improved physical conditions, compared to just 15 percent for those who received interferon.
While the study hinted that reversing disabilities associated with multiple sclerosis is achievable, the authors note the patients were treated during a relatively early phase of the disease.
"These results are encouraging, but exactly how alemtuzumab may reverse damage, whether it's through repairing myelin, creating new nerve synapses, greatly reducing inflammation or some other mechanism, is yet to be investigated," Bibiana Bielekova explained. "Longer studies are also needed to see how many people experience, or do not experience, improvement in disability over longer periods of time."
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease that affects a victim's central nervous system by disrupting the flow of information between the body and the brain. The cause of the disease remains unknown.