Five big medical, health-care advances for 2004
Promising new drug to treat multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that typically hits people around age 30, setting them up for periodic symptoms resulting from brain and spinal inflammation, said Dr. Richard Rudick, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research.
M.S. eventually disables people, robbing them of their vision and the ability to walk and function, he said.
"The key to treating M.S. is to have an effective mechanism to block brain inflammation and using that in the early stage of the disease before developing brain injury and neurological disability," Rudick said.
For the past 10 years, patients typically have been treated with copaxone or interferon, which can cause flu-like symptoms as a side effect. But last month, the FDA approved Tysabri, a biological product known as a monoclonal antibody made by Biogen Idec (BIIB) and Elan (ELN), and that seems to offer patients more benefits, Rudick said.