New multiple sclerosis drug will cost $50,000 a year
Experimental drug called BG-12 joins fight against misunderstood disease
An experimental new drug, BG-12, has been shown to lower the number of nerve cell attacks of those afflicted with multiple sclerosis with fewer side effects. It's estimated that the treatment will cost $50,000 a year, the same as other drugs used to treat MS.
MS occurs about three times as often in women as men; especially for cases diagnosed for people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
BG-12 helps reduce the number of "flare-ups" associated with the disease, in the manner of the nine other drugs already approved to treat MS.
In MS cases, the immune system, specifically disease-fighting T-cells destroy the myelin sheath, the coating on the outside of brain and spinal nerve cells. This occurs during separate attacks or flare-ups, usually a year or more apart. No part of the brain or spinal cord appears resistant. People with MS can appear very healthy, but autoimmune attacks often inflict severe damage.
"MS can affect vision, movement, strength, sensation, bowel, bladder, sexual function, mood, cognition," says Dr. Robert Fox, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic who headed the BG-12 study. "Everything the brain does can be impaired from MS."
Its possible MS may be set off by a viral infection. After the infection, the immune system starts to mistake neurons for virus or infected cells and destroys them.
MS' viral role has been suggested from studies done in the Orkney, Shetland and Faroe Islands off Scotland. While all these islands share similar geography and ethnic makeup, prior to 1943, the Orkneys and Shetlands had a high incidence of MS, while the Faroe Islands almost none. The overriding theory is that the movement of British troops spread a virus.
There also strong evidence for genetic susceptibility. This theory stems from the incidence of MS among various ethnic groups. Caucasians have the highest incidence while other ethic groups have almost no MS. These include the Inuit of Canada, Yakuts of Russia, the Hutterites, a religious group in Montana, Hungarian Romani, Norwegian Lapps, Australian Aborigines and New Zealand Maoris.
Many populations in Africa almost never suffer MS; only contracting the disease when they migrate to Europe or the U.S. their rates go up. Many Asian populations have almost no MS, and for them migration does not seem to increase susceptibility.
MS seems to occur far more often in cooler climates than those that are closer to the equator. Like many autoimmune diseases, hormones seem to play a role. MS occurs about three times as often in women as men; especially for cases diagnosed for people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Research thus far have not yielded the cause or a cure for the disease. And although people with MS have near-average life expectancies, until there are better medications, they will likely end up in a wheelchair with many other disabilities.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: MS, BG-12, wheelchairs, genetic disposition, virus
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