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Designer Estrogen Could Be Next MS Drug E-mail
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UCLA scientists discovered that a specific form of estrogen can protect the brain from degeneration yet not increase the risk for hormone-induced cancers of the breast and uterus.

The study took place in mice infected with the animal equivalent of multiple sclerosis.

IMPACT:
While people with multiple sclerosis have many choices for anti-inflammatory drugs to help  prevent flare-ups of their physical symptoms, no medication exists to stop the disorder from causing degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. The UCLA findings offer potential for a "designer estrogen" that doctors could prescribe in higher doses without increasing a patient's cancer risk, as well as a potent MS cocktail blending the hormone with a standard anti-inflammatory treatment.

This form of estrogen also offers a new weapon for combating brain degeneration caused by Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig's disease, spinal cord injury and even normal aging. Finally, men may be able to use it without fear of developing the feminine side effects often produced by standard estrogen treatments.

AUTHORS:
Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl, Jack H. Skirball Chair in Multiple Sclerosis Research and professor of neurology; and Seema Tiwari-Woodruff, assistant professor of neurology, both from the UCLA Multiple Sclerosis Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine, are available for interviews.

FUNDING:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Multiple Sclerosis Society supported the research.

 

About Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an Autoimmune Disease. This is a condition where the body's own defense system attacks myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers in the central nervous system. The nerve fibers themselves can also be damaged. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of multiple sclerosis are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.

People with MS can typically experience one of four disease courses, each of which might be mild, moderate, or severe.

  • Primary-Progressive MS
    Primary-Progressive MS  is characterized by slowly worsening neurologic function from the beginning-with no distinct relapses or remissions. The rate of progression may vary over time, with occasional plateaus and temporary minor improvements. Approximately 10% of people are diagnosed with primary-progressive MS.
  • Relapsing-Remitting MS
    People with this type of MS experience clearly defined attacks of worsening neurologic function. These attacks-which are called relapses, flare-ups, or exacerbations -are followed by partial or complete recovery periods (remissions), during which no disease progression occurs. Approximately 85% of people are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS.
  • Secondary-Progressive MS
    Following an initial period of relapsing-remitting MS, many people develop a secondary-progressive disease course in which the disease worsens more steadily, with or without occasional flare-ups, minor recoveries (remissions), or plateaus. Before the disease-modifying medications became available, approximately 50% of people with relapsing-remitting MS developed this form of the disease within 10 years. Long-term data are not yet available to determine if treatment significantly delays this transition
  • Progressive-Relapsing MS
    In this relatively rare course of MS (5%), people experience steadily worsening disease from the beginning, but with clear attacks of worsening neurologic function along the way. They may or may not experience some recovery following these relapses, but the disease continues to progress without remissions.

Most people with MS learn to cope with the disease and continue to lead satisfying, productive lives. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.

 

 
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