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MS patients receive cautioned hope

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There may be hope for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, although further testing and research is still necessary. Combining the estrogen hormone estriol with Copaxone, a drug indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), may improve symptoms in patients with the disorder, according to an announcement from the National Institute of Health (NIH) today.

“While these results are encouraging, the results of this Phase II study should be considered preliminary as a larger study would be needed to know whether benefits outweigh the risks for persons affected by MS,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., deputy director of NINDS in a NIH press release.

Copaxone is taken by injection and there is no generic drug available at this time, according to the National MS Society. COPAXONE®, as it actually correctly written, is a registered trademark of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Teva warns that the drug should not be taken if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.

An estimated 400,000 people in the US alone have been diagnosed with MS, according to Health Union. However, the National MS Society points out that the number may not be accurate since no government agency is required to track MS occurrences. They do estimate though that 2.3 million people worldwide have MS.

MS, as defined by the NIH, is an autoimmune disorder in which immune cells break down myelin, a protective covering or sheath that wraps around and protects the nerve cells. It is that break down or loss of myelin that results in the pain and the movement problems so characteristic of the chronic disease. The break down of myelin also is responsible for the changes in the patient’s cognitive ability.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) adds that MS is a progressive disease of the central nervous system. While the exact cause of MS remains unknown, it is believed that MS affects those with a genetic susceptibility and that environmental factors may trigger the disease. Women, according to the CDC, are three times more likely to be affected by MS than our male counterparts.

The symptoms of MS are, according to the Mayo Clinic, a numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, partial or complete loss of central vision, double vision or blurring of vision, a tingling or pain in parts of your body, electric-shock sensations that occur with certain head movements, a lack of coordination or unsteady gait, slurred speech, fatigue and dizziness.

The findings are the preliminary results of a clinical study which were presented today at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in Philadelphia by Rhonda Voskuhl, M.D., from the University of California, Los Angeles. The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health; and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The local chapter of the National MS Society is actually not in Lancaster County. It is located at 2040 Lingletown Road in Harrisburg.

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