Treatment for MS - Hope
For years, Sarah Moore endured slurred speech, difficulty moving and constant exhaustion after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1975.
Desperate for any way to stop the disease's progression, the former teacher was the first user of Deskar, an investigational drug developed by Dallas pharmacologist Solomon B. Margolin and tested by neurologist Dr. Jonathan E. Walker, medical director at Neuroscience Centers in Dallas.
Now Moore, who had to use a wheelchair on trips to the mall and struggled to hold pens, speaks distinctly, rides horses and swims three times a week.
She is one of 39 patients in the Metroplex and Seattle who have tested the controversial drug with the generic name, pirfenidone.
"Within two-and-a-half months, I noticed an increased sense of well-being, and by the end of three months, I knew I had more energy and I noticed a lack of slurring of speech," Moore said. "I could walk over rough terrain without losing my balance while carrying books and satchels."
Studies are still under way, but Margolin, president of Dallas-based Marnac Inc., a pharmalogical research company, said early indications are promising for the most progressive cases of M.S.
The North Texas Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates 6,500 residents of the Metroplex and North Central Texas have from the disease, which attacks the central nervous system, causing paralysis and musculature problems.
"When we started out, the expectation was that we would consider ourselves successful if we stopped the progression of the disease," Margolin said. "Lo and behold, people actually got better -- and not (just) occasionally. ... That was the real icing on the cake."
Signs of improvement
Pirfenidone, an anti-fibrotic agent which is also in clinical trials for pulmonary fibrosis, acts to inhibit the production of chemicals secreted by the body's white blood cells. Those chemicals can trigger a process that hardens the nerves of M.S. patients.
M.S. patients in the Deskar study take two pills, three times a day. Preliminary trials have ended in Dallas, where patients averaged a 12% improvement in the first three months and a 16% improvement in a year.
Source: Dallas Business Joournal © 2006 American City Business Journals, Inc