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New Drug Offers Hope For Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. It slowly impedes brain function and interrupts signals between the brain and body. So far, treatment has been limited to corticosteroids and plasma exchange. But a new drug may be able to change all of that.

Researchers have developed a new drug called ibudilast in an effort to treat the degenerative condition. In a study conducted with a group of 255 patients with MS, participants were randomly selected and asked to take either a placebo or ibudilast for a number of weeks.

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The results gathered from the study were extremely promising. 48% less brain atrophy was observed in the patients given ibudilast. It works by slowing the rate of brain shrinkage, thereby reducing nerve damage.

Researchers are hopeful the drug will help treat those affected with progressive MS. How suspending brain atrophy will affect walking, cognitive function, and basic motor skills will require further study.

MS is considered an autoimmune disease. It starts when an individual’s own immune system begins to attack the myelin, the whitish sheet of proteins and phospholipids that surrounds and protects nerves. This eventually leads to slowing down the communication between brain cells. Because it attacks the central nervous system in such a way, many patients develop problems with balance, vision, and movement.

It is one of the most common neurological conditions and affects more than 2.3 million people all over the world. Primary progressive MS and Secondary progressive MS are the two forms of the condition and affect people at different rates. Only about 10% to 15% of people diagnosed suffer from PPMS, leaving the other 85% affected by SPMS.

An even more uncommon form of MS affecting less than 10% of patients is evidenced by a steady decline of health from the initial diagnosis.

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