'Explosion' in MS treatments seen

Jan. 5, 2012 at 12:57 PM
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NEW YORK, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. doctors say an "explosion" of new treatments for multiple sclerosis has given sufferers of the disease new options and new hope.

Two decades ago chances of successfully combating the condition that attacks the central nervous system were slim, experts said, but there are now eight drugs available, half of them approved in the past five years.

Two new disease-modifying treatments will be presented for Food and Drug Administration approval this year, they said.

"We went from a time when one of my early mentors told me the attitudes for people with MS were 'diagnose and adios.' We had nothing to offer them," Dr. Aaron Miller, director of the MS Center at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, told ABC News. "We've had an incredible explosion of new treatments."

Drug treatments for MS have been most successful in the relapsing and remitting form, or stage, of the disease.

Before the development of disease-modifying therapies, about three-quarters of patients with this form of the disease developed a progressive form of MS.

Unlike the relapsing and remitting form, the progressive form of MS worsens more steadily without ever getting better.

While there are as yet not effective treatments for the progressive form, doctors say they are encouraged by the progress in MS research.

"It's so gratifying now that we have so many options," Miller said. "And to know that as the years go on, we're seeing drugs that are not only easier to take – oral drugs rather than injectable drugs – but that have a higher degree of effectiveness."

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