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NEWS New treatment for Multiple Sclerosis Slows Disease Prog­ression, Reduces Relapses

A groundbreaking new treatment for multiple sclerosis is now available in the United States and is being used to treat patients in San Antonio.

The drug Lemtrada was initially denied approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but the decision was reversed several months ago, after a big outcry from the MS patient community.

Lisa Capps was excited to try the new treatment. She'll spend the week hooked up to an intravenous treatment of Lemtrada for about seven hours a day for five days.

However, she believes the time spent will be worth it. Other treatments for MS haven't worked for her and said she believes the new treatment could give a fighting chance.

"This was the newest thing out there and what they call the closest to a cure that we can get to MS right now," said Capps.

Capps was first diagnosed about a year ago, shortly after he daughter was born.

"I have to walk with a cane now and I also have cognitive problems, so I have difficulty thinking, focusing, holding attention," she said.

As the disease progresses, it could lead to vision loss, complete inability to walk, urinary and bowel disfunction, the inability to sense arms and legs, dizziness, loss of balance, and other disabilities.

Treatment with Lemtrada is expected to slow progression of the disease and reduce relapses.

Capp's physician, Dr. Ann Bass, a neurologist and multiple sclerosis specialist at Neurology Center of San Antonio, said Lemtrada works by rebooting the immune system and is similar to rebooting a computer.

She said it wipes out the immune system, then allows it to rebuild over time.

"The immune system kind of rebalance itself and it can last for several years," Bass said.

At first, patients need close monitoring, especially for kidney and thyroid function. During the time the immune system is low, patients require frequent health checks.

However, according to Bass, clinical trials have had ground breaking results

"I have patients in 10 years remission after two years of treatment," she said. " It improves their prognosis and really, most importantly, it just really improves their quality of life."

"It gives me lots of hope because I have a daughter who is 15 months old and I want to be able to keep up with her," said Capps.

Lemtrada is also unique because of the dosing.

According to Bass, other treatments include daily pills or injections several times a week, while Lemtrada is given intravenously for a five-day period the first year and then a three-day period for the second year.



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