TUESDAY, April 28, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- The drug Tysabri (natalizumab) appears to regenerate and stabilize damage done to the myelin sheath in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a study from drug makers Biogen Idec and Elan Corp shows.
MS is nervous system disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms experienced by MS patients are caused by damage to the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerve cells.
In this study, researchers used advanced MRI technology to measure lesions and normal brain tissue in patients who took either Tysabri, interferon beta-1a, or no drugs. After 12 months of follow-up, the 62 patients who took Tysabri showed remyelination when compared to the 26 who took inteferon beta-1a or the 22 patients in the control group.
The findings were presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, in Seattle.
"What we have seen in these MRI data suggest that Tysabri may have the capacity to repair and possibly restore some of the damaged myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers. Results from this study support the continued investigation of the potential effects of Tysabri on this process," lead investigator Dr. Robert Zivadinov, of the Jacobs Neurological Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., said in a news release.
Tysabri is approved for treatment of relapsing forms of MS in the United States and for relapsing-remitting MS in the European Union.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has more about MS treatments.