What is goat serum?
This treatment uses antibodies from the serum (the fluid portion of blood) of goats that have been inoculated with a variety of vaccines, to generate neutralising antibodies.
Antibodies are proteins produced by white blood cells in response to an antigen (foreign protein), to destroy/neutralise the antigen. The strong anti-inflammatory component of the serum is thought by researchers to be 'potentially useful' in the treatment of MS.
Much anecdotal evidence seems to exist in support of a beneficial effect in MS but there is no research evidence or published information available to back up the anecdotal claims.
Side effects appear to be extremely limited although controlled research is necessary before conclusions can be reached.
A large number of people with MS have been receiving goat serum, via informed consent. This means they are receiving it through a GP but are NOT part of a controlled trial. No more people can receive this drug via informed consent.
A controlled trial (where half of the participants are receiving the treatment and half are on placebo (a dummy treatment) is ongoing at St George's Hospital in South London - this should provide us with the research evidence that is currently lacking. 80 participants are involved, all have Secondary Progressive MS. Recruitment for this trial has stopped - no more referrals can be made to this trial. No results are expected from this trial until June 2005.
A second controlled trial occuring in Oxford, involving participants with optic neuritis, is due to complete in November this year. However, there will be no published results for six months. Recruitment for this trial has stopped.
A third trial is being planned, with a focus on acute relapses in MS. This trial is awaiting ethical approval - once received, information regarding recruitment to this trial will be posted up.
This drug cannot be obtained from anywhere else, and is not available to the general public.
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This item was written by the MS Society Research Manager in consultation with Daval International.
http://www.mssociety.org.uk/news_events ... ats_2.html