Drugs Regime Offers Hope to MS Sufferers

Multiple sclerosis sufferers have been offered hope of a normal life after doctors pioneered a wonder drug treatment. A five-year study, due to be published in August’s Journal of Neurology, found that patients with the aggressive form of MS had a reduced relapse rate of 90% under the regime. The drastic reduction means that patients who would have faced bedridden lives will now be able to work and raise families uninterrupted.

The treatment, which was tested at the Walton Centre for Neurology in Liverpool, involves a limited course of the cancer drug Mitoxantrone, followed by the disease-moderating drug Copaxone. Results were so successful that a full study is now being initiated at 10 centres across the UK, for which volunteers are being sought.

Dr Mike Boggild, the consultant neurologist who led the research, said the two drugs appeared to have a powerful combined effect. “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,” he said.

Karen Ayres, 28, was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of MS in 2002. She was treated by Dr Boggild and has not suffered a single relapse.

Miss Ayres, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, said: “During my second relapse, which was when I came into Dr Boggild’s care, I couldn’t walk or feed myself. Since then I have led a completely normal life. I have travelled to all five continents and I’m now doing a PhD in psychology at Leeds University.”