December 26, 2003
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves. Researchers around the country are looking at a medication that may help people with MS. They're hoping the new drug will help improve walking and quality of life.
A simple walk across the room is not so simple for David Kolodny, "If you can imagine what it's like to walk on stilts or something like that. It's just real awkward and very unbalancing."
David has MS. It started 20 years ago. He ultimately had to give up working.
Now, this former business man spends his days sitting at the computer, "I really don't go to the stores. I don't go to the malls. Traveling has become kind of a burden."
But Dr. Bill Lindsey, a neurologist, says a pill, Fampridine, may make life a little easier for people with MS, "If it improves walking speed for people who are using canes or walkers, then they'll be able to get around their house better and do more things in the day."
When the protective covering over the nerve is damaged, signals can't get through.
Dr. Lindsey says Fampridine bridges the gap and allows nerve messages to get across, "We're hoping for a partial improvement in areas where the myelin has been damaged, but the nerve cells are intact."
In a study of 68 patients, 27 percent reported improvement in symptoms. Only two percent on the placebo improved.
Since David is involved in a new study, he's still not sure if he's on the drug.
But even if it doesn't help him, he's looking to the future, "If it can help find another medication that will help MS patients, then it's worth it."
Fampridine is also being tested for its effectiveness in treating people
with spinal cord injuries. Doctors expect to have the results of this new
study in 2004. Side effects may include numbness, tingling, headache and
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