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Medication shows promise treating Progressive MS

Medication shows promise treating Progressive MS (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - There's promising new research in the fight against a disease for which doctors have yet to find a cure.

MS, or “Multiple Sclerosis”, is a disease which impacts the central nervous system.

Right now, there are several medications for one kind, called relapsing and remitting MS, but not many for another type called progressive.

Thanks to local researchers who have been part of a national trial that could soon change.

Dr. Aram Zabeti specializes in treating patients with multiple sclerosis at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Along with other researchers across the country, including those at the Cleveland Clinic, he's been part of this national research on MS, supported by the National Institutes of Health. They've been studying progressive MS.

Progressive MS can cause brain shrinkage, and Dr. Zabeti calls it “neurodegeneration.”

“Progressive MS is basically the phase that we see a lot nerve damage,” said Dr. Zabeti.

Dr. Zabeti's team has been part of a national trial showing that a medication called “Ibudilast” may work against these symptoms.

“This new discovery gave us a new option of progressive MS,” said Dr. Zabeti.

It was sort of what was called an incidental discovery. The drug, used for another purpose, actually helped slow what was a complication of this progressive MS.

"This medication has been used for treatment of asthma,” said Dr. Zabeti. The medication has been used in Japan to treat asthma and several other conditions for decades.

In the study, when researchers treated those with progressive MS with the drug and compared it to a placebo, or group without the drug, they found a 48 percent reduction in brain shrinkage.

Dr. Zabeti says for those with progressive MS it could help reduce walking, memory, and concentration problems.

"This medication was able to preserve some of those function and it is very important,” said Dr. Zabeti.

MRI scans were followed in the patients in this study for two years, but longer trials are still needed.

The drug did show a good safety profile, but no word yet on how soon it might be approved by the FDA for use in progressive MS.

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