Multiple sclerosis patients who combine standard treatment with doses of the antibody daclizumab might develop fewer new or enlarged brain lesions than if they use the standard treatment alone, according to a new study.

John Rose, a University of Utah professor of neurology, co-authored the study published online Tuesday inThe Lancet Neurology journal.

In the phase two clinical trial, researchers found that patients taking interferon beta medications, which are drugs that treat MS, along with high dose of the antibody developed an average of 1.32 lesions measured on brain MRI scans. That compared to nearly five lesions for those taking interferon beta and a placebo.

Further study is needed to understand the long-term risks and benefits of daclizumab, which caused nausea and infections among some patients.

The researchers concluded that the add-on treatment "might reduce multiple sclerosis disease activity to a greater extent than interferon beta alone."

MS attacks the central nervous system, and the scars formed on nerve fibers or their protective sheath distort the impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord. It can cause numbness, pain, walking and cognitive problems, according to the National MS Society. There is no cure.

The majority of the 400,000 Americans who have MS are initially diagnosed with a relapsing form, which means their neurological function worsens, followed by partial or complete recoveries.

Two hundred thirty relapsing patients from 51 centers in the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy and Spain were randomly selected to receive a placebo or a high or low dose of the antibody. Neither the patients nor doctors knew what they received.

Heather May