22 Jul 2006
Multiple Sclerosis patients who receive a brief course of Mitoxantrone, and then Copaxone, experience a reduced replase rate of 90%, according to a five-year study carried out at The Walton Centre for Neurology, Liverpool, UK. A further ten controlled studies are being launched at 10 centres in the UK. A reduced relapse rate of 90% means the difference between being bedridden and holding down a job and actively raising a family for many MS patients.
You can read about this study in the Journal of Neurology, August issue.
Mitoxantrone is used for treating cancer patients, it is so powerful that it can only be used for a short time. Copaxone is a slow-acting disease-moderating drug for MS patients. In this study, doctors decided to overlap the treatments because they wanted to give some time for copaxone to build up its effect.
Head researcher, Dr Mike Boggild, said "This regime has proved remarkably effective. Though there are certain risks, associated particularly with use of Mitoxantrone, we have been able to limit these by using this agent for just a short induction period. Balanced against the high risk of early disability for these patients, the outcomes appear to justify this approach.”
Dr. Boggild started treating with Karen Ayres, 28, in 2002. Karen Ayres has MS. Since 2002 she has not suffered any relapses at all. Ayres said she came to see Dr. Boggild during her second relapse. She was unable to walk or feed herself - she was barely able to wave her hand. A few weeks after treatment started she walked out of the rehab centre unaided. She says that since the beginning of this treatment she has managed to lead a completely normal life - she has travelled to five continents and is currently doing a PhD in Psychology at Leeds University, UK.
Ayres was one of 27 patients treated during this open trial. Many of them experienced similar remarkable reductions in relapses.
This study was not a controlled one. This means there was not one group of patients on the drug treatment compared to another group on a placebo. The ten new studies are controlled ones.
The treatment does have potentially serious side-effects, including leukaemia and cardiac problems. However, for many MS patients, it is still worth the risk.
Journal of Neurology
Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today