One of Dr. Stephen Houser’s first ever patients was a Harvard Law graduate with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease commonly referred to as MS. As it often does in severe cases, MS took the patient’s ability to speak, swallow, and breathe and restricted her to a wheelchair. Having no way to treat her, Houser decided then that he would dedicate his career to MS research, which is what he has done for the past forty years.
On Tuesday March 28, the Food and Drug Association announced approval of a new drug called ocrelizumab. As opposed to many other MS drugs which target T cells in the immune system, ocrelizumab blocks the immune system’s B cells. This drug aims to treat primary progressive MS, which means it is the first ever FDA approved drugs to treat the most aggressive form of multiple sclerosis.
Of an estimated 400,000 Americans who live with the disease, the new drugs just might prove to be very beneficial to the 10-15% who suffer from the disease in its most severe form. It also has been cleared for relapse-remitting form of MS. Hause comments, “We’ve never had a treatment so successful against new lesions,” and goes on to say that it essentially “stops MS in its tracks.”
Alanna Shingler Staff Reporter