Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that can affect a person’s brain, spinal cord and eyes. While the effects are different for everyone, it can cause everything from loss of vision to paralysis and slurred speech. An estimated 2.3 million people suffer from MS around the world.
While there’s no known cure at this point, the good news is that in recent years, scientists have been making new discoveries and developing new multiple sclerosis treatments that offer hope.
Here are a few recent multiple sclerosis treatments:
Ocrevus (Ocrelizumab) is a drug specifically designed to treat both relapsing and progressive forms of multiple sclerosis. It was granted “breakthrough” status by the FDA in 2016 and its approval is highly anticipated. Researchers say Ocrevus is a major breakthrough as “no previous drug has managed to slow disability progression in these patients.”
An under-the-skin injection, Zinbryta has shown to reduce MS relapses by more than 50 percent in some trials. While it has been recently approved by the FDA, it’s recommended that only people who have tried two or more MS therapies without success take Zinbryta, as there are potential side effects including severe liver injury.
In clinical trials, Phenytoin (Dilantin), a drug used to treat epilepsy, has been shown to protect the nerve fibers in the eyes of MS patients from damage. In one study those who received Phenytoin saw 30 percent less damage to the nerves in their eyes than the placebo group.
Bone marrow-derived stem cells
A clinical trial in Canada that involved extracting bone marrow cells, killing off the remaining immune cells, then injecting the bone marrow back into the body, was actually shown to cure some patients of MS all together. Researchers warn it’s an extreme treatment and one patient even died in the trial, but it’s a promising development nonetheless.
Researchers have created a new peptide that has been shown to reduce nerve cell damage in MS patients. This finding could lead to new treatments.
Magnetic brain stimulation
In many cases, MS affects not only the body, but the mind as well, including one’s memory. Studies have shown that stimulation of the brain with electromagnetic pulses may result in improved memory, a decrease in depression and an improvement in overall brain function.
These are but a few of the promising developments when it comes to treating and finding a cure for MS. For more information, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America offers a toolkit to help evaluate and choose currently available MS treatment options.