All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for October 2003

New Drug Could Help Delay MS

Exercise Key Element In Living With Multiple Sclerosis

October 24, 2003
The Omaha Channel

Multiple sclerosis is a disease where the immune system attacks the nerves; muscles, coordination and balance become affected.

About 400,000 Americans suffer from MS. It has no cure, but a new drug may be able to slow the progression of the disease.

Art Coscuna likes competition.

"I was a high school quarterback, All-State, played baseball, football, soccer," Coscuna said.

But Coscuna now faces some competition he didn't see coming -- multiple sclerosis. His first attack was three years ago.

"My whole left side, every muscle, contracted. It tightened up at once, and I fell right to the ground," he said.

Cheryl Hillman has been living with MS for 23 years.

"I always have problems with my left side, and my legs are predominantly affected, so walking becomes a problem," Hillman said.

MS patients like Hillman and Coscuna take medications that help them stay well, but researchers like neurologist Dr. Ben Thrower are looking for ways to stop the disease. He may have found one.

"Rather than letting them develop into an aggressive, or attacking, sort of white blood cell, (medication) will send them down the pathway to being a more regulatory, more protective type of white blood cell," said Thrower, who is with The Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

Thrower said the method means fewer attacks, fewer lesions, and slower progression of disability.

"In the initial trials, what we've seen is that the drug appears to suppress the inflammatory activity on MRI," he said.

For now, Coscuna's therapy is to keep active.

"My coordination might not be where it was at, but I can still do anything and everything," Coscuna said.

Hillman stays active with water exercises. "You can exercise the muscles without doing a lot of jolting to your body, without working up a sweat," she said.

Exercise keeps them going, while Hillman and Coscuna wait for a drug to keep them well.

The drug, which is currently dubbed NBI-5788, is still under study in a multinational trial. Thrower said future applications for the drug could include other neurological disorders like Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's disease.

Copyright © 2003, Ivanhoe Broadcast News