June 16, 2003
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Multiple sclerosis affects 350,000 Americans. With the exception of trauma, it is the most frequent cause of neurological disability beginning in early to middle adulthood. MS is incurable, but early studies of a new drug are showing promise for people with relapsing or remitting MS.
Each day, Maria Rios prays the same prayer. "Lord you gave me this. You will see me through it. Just, please, hold my hand and walk with me."
Last year, neurologist Daniel Jacobs, M.D., confirmed the pain and fatigue Rios suffers from is caused by multiple sclerosis. "There are days that I feel great. There are days I can't get out of bed," Rios tells Ivanhoe.
Rios is in the early stages of MS, and she hasn't yet received the standard drug treatments to slow its debilitating effects. For this reason, her doctor says she's a prime candidate to participate in a study of a new drug called CAMPATH-1H.
The MRI on the left shows visible white spots or plaques in the brain. They form when the protective myelin covering the nerves is destroyed by white blood cells. CAMPATH-1H targets those destructive white blood cells.
Dr. Jacobs says, "We have the chance to stop the disease in it's tracks and prevent disability at five, 10, 20, or 25 years down the road."
For Rios, the new drug might be the miracle she's been praying for. But if it's not, she'll continue to rely on her faith. She says, "Even if I'm crippled, even if I can't move from a bed, I'm alive, and that's what counts."
Results from a small pilot study show the drug is effective in 95 percent of MS patients. Recruiting for the new study of CAMPATH-1H is still ongoing. Approximately 180 people nationwide will be enrolled.
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