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New Drug for Multiple Sclerosis

Tames overactive immune cells

FRIDAY, Nov. 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Tysabri (natalizumab) as a new treatment for multiple sclerosis. The incurable nervous system disease affects about 350,000 Americans.

The drug, known as a humanized monoclonal antibody, appears to work by preventing immune cells from migrating from the bloodstream to the brain, where they cause inflammation and lead to nerve fiber damage, its two manufacturers said in a statement. The medication is produced by Massachusetts-based Biogen Idec Inc. and the Irish drugmaker Elan Corp.

During two sets of clinical trials involving more than 2,000 people, the drug was called Antegren, the but its name was changed to Tysabri. When combined with another drug Avonex, the relapse frequency among MS patients was reduced by 54 percent, compared to those who took a nonmedicinal placebo, the drugmakers said.

People who have MS are often left tired and numb with poor coordination and sometimes blurred vision. Common side effects from the medication included pneumonia, rash, fever, low blood pressure, and chest pain.

To learn more about multiple sclerosis, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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