Combo May Help Multiple Sclerosis Patients

A new study shows adding a new medication to the standard treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) may help better control the disease. Doctors at the University of Baltimore and Brown University in Rhode Island say adding an immunosuppressive drug to the routine treatment of MS is well tolerated by patients.

Within the last decade, there have been three major medications available to MS patients: Betaseron, Avonex and Copaxone. Doctors say all three effectively treat the disease, but many patients still need more. In this study of 16 people, doctors treated patients with the drug methotrexate and Avonex. Previous studies show methotrexate is safe and effective in patients with psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

None of the 16 patients reported any serious side effects. The most common effect was nausea, which lasted for 24 hours after the drug was given. The doctors say, not only is the drug well tolerated, but it also appears to reduce the number of lesions visible on an MRI by 44 percent.

No one is sure what causes MS but it occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the protective myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers in the brain and spine. Symptoms of MS include muscle weakness and stiffness, balance and coordination problems, numbness and vision disturbances.

Doctors hope this small study will open the door for further research into combining medications to help patients with their disease.

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