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Monday 24th October 2016

Cancer drug could reverse effects of MS

23rd October 2008

Scientists say a drug developed to treat leukaemia could help tackle multiple sclerosis.


Researchers say that alemtuzumab appears to stop progression of the disease in patients with early stage active relapsing-remitting MS, which is the most common form of the condition, and may also enable repair of previous damage.

The study was conducted by a team from the University of Cambridge and is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, researchers stress their work is at an early stage and have warned that the drug could produce potentially serious side-effects.

Lead researcher Professor Alastair Compston said: "Alemtuzumab is the most promising experimental drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, and we are hopeful that the phase three trials will confirm that it can both stabilise and allow some recovery of what had previously been assumed to be irreversible disabilities."

Alemtuzumab was created at Cambridge in the late 1970s and is used to treat leukaemia by killing off the cancerous white cells of the immune system.

The latest study focused on 334 patients with relapsing-remitting MS which had yet to be treated.

It found that the drug cut the number of attacks of disease by 74% more than the reduction achieved by conventional interferon-beta therapy.

Lee Dunster, head of research at the MS Society, said: "This is the first drug that has shown the potential to halt and even reverse the debilitating effects of MS and this news will rightly bring hope to people living with the condition day in, day out.”


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