Category Archives: innovation in disablity

New Hope for Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers

 

It has been a long time coming BUT it looks as if scientists have finally come up with a  drug that alters the immune system which has been described as “big news” and a “landmark” in treating multiple sclerosis, doctors and charities say.  If this is the case then Disabilitymatch enthusiastically welcomes this news and hopes that it will be quickly available for our members and the wider disabled community at the earliest possible date.

Trials, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest the drug can slow damage to the brain in two forms of MS.

Ocrelizumab is the first drug shown to work in the primary progressive form of the disease.

The drug is being reviewed for use in the US and Europe.

MS is caused by a rogue immune system mistaking part of the brain for a hostile invader and attacking it.

It destroys the protective coating that wraps round nerves called the myelin sheath.

The sheath also acts like wire insulation to help electrical signals travel down the nerve.

Damage to the sheath prevents nerves from working correctly and means messages struggle to get from the brain to the body.

This leads to symptoms like having difficulty walking, fatigue and blurred vision.

The disease can either just get worse, known as primary progressive MS, or come in waves of disease and recovery, known as relapsing remitting MS.

Both are incurable, although there are treatments for the second state.

Ocrelizumab kills a part of the immune system – called B cells – which are involved in the assault on the myelin sheath.

In 732 patients with progressive MS, the percentage of patients that had deteriorated fell from 39% without treatment to 33% with ocrelizumab .

Patients taking the drug also scored better on the time needed to walk 25 feet and had less brain loss detected on scans.

In 1,656 patients with relapsing remitting, the relapse rate with ocrelizumab was half that of using another drug.

Prof Gavin Giovannoni, from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, was involved in the trials and said: “The results shown by these studies have the potential to change how we approach treating both relapsing and primary progressive MS.”

He told the BBC: “It’s very significant because this is the first time a phase three trial has been positive in primary progressive MS.”

More than 100,000 people are diagnosed with MS in the UK, around one-in-five are progressive.

Dr Aisling McMahon, the head of clinical trials at the MS Society, commented: “This is really big news for people with the primary progressive form of multiple sclerosis.

“It’s the first time a treatment has shown the potential to reduce disability progression for this type of MS, which offers a lot of hope for the future.”

The drug is being considered by the European Medicines Agency and the US Food and Drug Administration.

But Prof Giovannoni warned that patients in the UK may be disappointed as it may be hard for the NHS to fund everyone getting a drug that is likely to be expenseive.

He told the BBC: “I would expect a narrow group of people to be eligible.”

Dr Peter Calabresi, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, added: “This is the first drug to show a significant effect in slowing disability progression in a phase three trial in primary progressive multiple sclerosis and therefore represents a landmark study in the field.”

But he warned doctors to “stay vigilant” because of the risk of side-effects.

Weakening the immune system increases the risk of infection and of cancer emerging.

Via bbc.co.uk

Claire Shows the Power of Bionics on Great North Run.

One of the most amazing things I saw at NAIDEX this year was the bionic suit created by ReWalk which provides an exoskeleton for amputees and quadriplegics.  Claire  Lomas is a shining example of how robotics and determination can work together to achieve greatness.

Claire Lomas, from Leicestershire, was paralysed from the chest down in a riding accident in 2007.

She began the half marathon, which runs from Newcastle to South Shields, on Wednesday and crossed the finish line at about 10:00 BST.

The 36-year-old, who is 16 weeks pregnant, said she was “over the moon” to finish the run.

She broke her neck, back and ribs and punctured a lung when her horse threw her off as she took part in the Osberton Horse Trials in Nottinghamshire.

Mrs Lomas has no feeling below her chest and used a ReWalk robotic exoskeleton, which relies on motion sensors to help her move and lift her legs to walk the route.

“It doesn’t just walk for me. I have to use the parts that aren’t paralysed to make it walk.”

She walked about three miles a day with the help of her husband Dan and was met at the finish line by her five-year-old daughter Maisie.

She said she had struggled to train because of morning sickness which meant there were times when she did not think she would make it to the start.

“I had quite a lot of morning sickness. I didn’t have the lead up I wanted, but I really did not want to lose this opportunity,” she said.

In 2012, Mrs Lomas completed the London Marathon in last place, inspiring many people with her courage and determination.

Via bbc.co.uk