Ampyra – dalfampridine – finally available! :)

In a previous post (January 27th 2010) titled “Ampyra – improves walking speed for MS patients!” I talked about the speedy approval that the FDA had given to dalfampridine. Dalfampridine is the first therapy for multiple sclerosis that can be taken orally (!!!!). It is also the first FDA-approved therapy to treat impaired walking, a debilitating symptom of the disease limiting patients’ independence and ability to accomplish the most basic tasks of daily living. While other multiple sclerosis drugs work by decreasing the inflammation that causes damage to the central nervous system, dalfampridine is designed to allow conduction of nerve impulses despite the damage.

The following paragraphs are taken from Medical News Today (April 6th, 2010). I am quoting them as I think they are well written and rather interesting as they give a short background story of the research including why this research is different from previous ones..:

Research that led to the discovery of dalfampridine’s therapeutic value dates back to the 1960s, when Dr. Floyd Davis, then a neurologist in training and later a physician at Rush, became intrigued by an unusual clinical observation: many multiple sclerosis patients fare better when their body temperature is slightly lowered, even by just two- or three-tenths of a degree.

“In multiple sclerosis, the protective myelin sheath that wraps around nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord is damaged, essentially causing a short circuit,” said Davis, who is now retired. “Somehow, lower body temperature enabled the electrical pulse to continue its travel along the nerve fibers. I was completely transfixed by the significance of that fact.”

It was important because it showed “that the damaged nerve fibers were not doomed, as previously believed,” said Dr. Dusan Stefoski, director of the Rush Multiple Sclerosis Center, who teamed up with Davis in 1978, shortly after completing neurology training at Rush.

It makes sense to me now why heat isn’t a friend of mine anymore (and of many other MSers)…at least now there is some sort of connection/proof for it ; ) Also, I think the fact that the damaged nerve fibres are here no longer seen as irreversibly damaged creates a huge hope in all of us!

The drug is now available in the US! Hopefully it will soon come to Europe as well.

Reminder: throughout the various trials the drug yielded a consistent improvement in walking speed & the study participants who took the drug also experienced greater leg strength than those who took a placebo. One of the Doctors that teamed in the study, Dr. Stefoski, said that although the drug has been approved specifically for the treatment of impaired walking, it also relieves other symptoms of multiple sclerosis, since it restores signal conduction in all the affected nerve fibers. (!!!!)

For more details on the study see under “Links” to the right and click on “Medical News Today”.

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