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“HICY” Drug Regimen Reverses MS Symptoms in Selected Patients

Posted Jun 16 2008 7:04pm

A short-term, very-high dose regimen of the immune-suppressing drug cyclophosphamide seems to slow progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) in most of a small group of patients studied and may even restore neurological function lost to the disease, Johns Hopkins researchers report. The findings in nine people, most of whom had failed all other treatments, suggest new ways to treat a disease that tends to progress relentlessly.

“We didn’t expect such a dramatic return of function,” says Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D, associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Although we’re very early in the game, we think this approach could be the linchpin of a significant advance for MS treatment.”

Researchers have used the so called HiCy treatments with some success at Johns Hopkins for a variety of other immune system disorders, including aplastic anemia, lupus and myasthenia gravis.

Cyclophosphamide kills immune-system cells but spares the bone marrow stem cells that make them. The usual method of delivering it in pulsed, small doses, however, can cause the drug to build up to toxic concentrations in patients’ bodies, causing a variety of side effects, including a greatly increased risk of infection.

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