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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Multiple sclerosis drug natalizumab may reduce immunity

News-Medical Net
Published: Tuesday, 16-Dec-2008

A drug used to treat multiple sclerosis might make some patients vulnerable to brain infection by reducing the number of immune cells there, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

The findings also suggest that the drug, natalizumab, might be safer and more effective when given with treatment "holidays" instead of continuously over long periods, the researchers said.

"Natalizumab is very effective in keeping pro-inflammatory cells out of the brain to reduce damage from MS," said Dr. Olaf St?>, assistant professor of neurology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, which appears in the December issue of Archives of Neurology.

But the potential downside is interference with immune surveillance against infection, he said. Thus, infections of the brain or spinal cord may go undetected until they become a serious problem.

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