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MS Breakthroughs

Apr 29, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
The recent Annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology revealed some big steps forward in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, an often disabling disease of the central nervous system, which interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. Approximately 2.3 million people worldwide have MS.

Eyesight is often one of areas most affected by MS. However, a commonly taken drug to prevent seizures in epilepsy may surprisingly protect the eyesight of people with MS, according to a study presented at the meeting.

“About half of people with MS experience, at some point in their lives, a condition called acute optic neuritis, in which the nerve carrying vision from the eye to the brain gets inflamed,” says author Raj Kapoor, M.D., with the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, England. The study found that the group who took phenytoin had 30 percent less damage to the nerve fiber layer compared to those who received the placebo.

Additionally, another study presented at the meeting suggests that an investigational drug for multiple sclerosis may repair myelin, the fatty material that protects nerves and is damaged in MS. “This study, for the first time, provides biological evidence of repair of damaged myelin in the human brain, and advances the field of neuro-reparative therapies,” says lead author Diego Cadavid, M.D., with Biogen in Cambridge, Mass., and a fellow with the American Academy of Neurology.

--Sarah Hagerty
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