I have a new neurologist appointment today and decided to do a tiny bit of research. I haven’t been on an interferon for two years. A lot of stuff has happened since then and I’m getting ready to come back from my medication vacation.
“There is evidence that our disease-modifying drugs, particularly Rebif®, Betaseron® and Avonex®, have some impact on slowing down secondary-progressive MS.”
- Disease-modifying drugs
- The disease-modifying drugs regulate the immune system in a way that appears to correct some of the abnormalities that may be fundamental to MS progression. I think of it as changing the conductor to make an orchestra sound better.
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Chemotherapy drugs can also slow down progression. Novantrone® is one of them, and while it has a lifetime dose limit to avoid heart damage, it is an effective option in secondary-progressive MS. In general, the chemotherapy drugs are not as targeted as the disease modifiers. Chemotherapy is more like firing the whole orchestra and hoping that management hires new players who won’t make the same mistakes.
Some physicians have used plasmapheresis for secondary-progressive MS, with mixed results. There is little evidence to support its use in either primary-progressive or secondary-progressive MS. In plasmapheresis, the plasma, or liquid component of blood, is removed and replaced with an artificial plasma. It may help because this removes all the immunoglobulins and other immune substances that are suspended in plasma. This treatment is generally reserved for people with severe, acute MS attacks that don’t respond to intravenous steroids.
- Bone marrow transplantation, also called “autologous stem-cell transplantation”
Bone marrow transplantation is a lifesaving treatment for certain cancers, especially leukemias. In bone marrow transplantations, people are given infusions of their own bone marrow, which was first extracted and treated. Chemotherapy and sometimes whole-body radiation are used to wipe out the person’s immune system before their treated bone marrow is given back. It has produced some good results in MS, usually for younger, less disabled people. But others have seen their MS return, and more progression. And, sadly, a few have died.”
If you would like to read more of what the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has to say about secondary progressive MS. Here is a link to their info.