Researchers continually search for new or better medicines to treat
multiple sclerosis (MS). MS appears to be a
disease in which the
immune system attacks the covering of the nerves
(myelin) within the brain and spinal cord. So treatments that reduce the activity
of the immune system may slow the progression of the disease. Medicines that
work in this manner are called immunosuppressants. They are a major focus of MS
Several immunosuppressants being studied or used for MS are:
Azathioprine (Imuran), which has shown conflicting results but may reduce the number of relapses in relapsing-remitting MS.
(Leustatin), which has been used successfully
leukemia. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not approve this drug for treatment of MS because of serious side effects, including death.
Cyclophosphamide, which some experts
believe stabilizes MS without improving it. But research has shown conflicting
Methotrexate, which has also been used to treat
rheumatoid arthritis. This drug may be of limited
benefit in reducing the progression of MS.
Monoclonal antibodies, such as:
Daclizumab (Zenapax), which may reduce disease activity in relapsing-remitting MS.
Rituximab (Rituxan), which has been shown to reduce the number of relapses in relapsing-remitting MS, but has had serious side effects, including PML.
Laquinimod, which is still experimental. It has been shown to reduce the number of active lesions in people with MS, as seen on MRI.
Any therapy that can be used to treat MS must be judged by how it
affects a person's degree of disability. Newer studies rely on the results of
MRI scans and the progression of disability to evaluate how well therapy is
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerBarrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
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