November 22, 2002
LOS ANGELES, Calif.
It's a curious side effect of pregnancy ... expectant mothers with multiple sclerosis often report their symptoms go away while the baby is developing. Now, doctors seem to have tapped into that mystery in their search for an MS treatment.
Melissa Sherak Resnick loves being pregnant, but it's not just motherhood she loves. It's also because she has multiple sclerosis. She says, "When I was pregnant with Gabriella, I wanted to be pregnant for the rest of my life. I'd have a lot of kids, but yes, because I didn't want the feeling to end."
That "feeling" is a total lack of MS symptoms -- no more weakness in her limbs, no more vision problems or dizziness. Resnick is now expecting her second child, and once again, she's symptom-free. Doctors at UCLA credit a hormone called estriol.
"We found that estriol treatment of mice, compared to placebo treatment, made the disease a lot better," UCLA neurologist Rhonda Voskuhl, M.D., tells Ivanhoe.
Estriol is a hormone that increases during pregnancy. In a study done at UCLA, researchers gave estriol to six women with early-stage multiple sclerosis. All showed improvement.
Dr. Voskuhl says, "We found there was a reduction in the MRI lesions, so the inflammatory legions of the brain went down when they were on treatment, went back up when they were off treatment, and then went back down again when they went back on treatment."
Estriol didn't help those with more advanced MS. Researchers hope the hormone may eventually be used to delay the progression into that advanced stage
In the meantime, women with MS can always get estriol the "natural" way, even if it's only temporary.
Resnick says, "I don't ever remember having that feeling of health. And then all of a sudden there were nine to 10 months when I had that feeling."
When used in conjunction with other medications, estriol could actually slow the debilitating effects of the multiple sclerosis. UCLA researchers are about to conduct a larger, second phase of the estriol study.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Multiple Sclerosis Study
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