September 24, 2003
Micki Flowers, Eyewitness News Health Reporter
A new drug is showing promise against the devastating disease Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that strikes an alarmingly high number of people in the Northwest.
Multiple Sclerosis is the most common disabling illness affecting young adults. Experts think it happens when the body attacks its own central nervous system.
Now researchers are hoping a medication currently used to treat Leukemia can stop M.S. in its path.
Researchers are hoping a medication currently used to treat Leukemia can stop M.S. in its path.
Jose Mezquita, 32, woke up one morning and had difficulty walking.
"It started last August, numbness in the legs, and basically that was about it at that time," Mezquita said.
He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and he was told the only available treatment options could only slow the progression.
Then he decided to join a clinical trial using a drug called Campath.
Doctors investigating the drug say it has already shown promise in early small studies.
"It almost shut down the disease. The reduction in the amount of relapses was amazing. so we are very excited about it," said Dr. Brian Steingo, a neurologist.
In MS, the body's own white blood cells go haywire and attack the protective sheath around nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Campath contains antibodies that seem to help the immune system remove those white blood cells.
"The idea of the antibody is to essentially wipe out the white blood cell to significantly impair its function," Dr. Steingo said.
Mezquita knows Campath is probably not a cure, but he's betting it could be his best shot at a normal life.
The experimental MS drug is delivered in one 5-day infusion treatment
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