An oral therapy for multiple sclerosis has just recently been approved by the FDA in the US. This will help aid MS sufferers with added options to handle this oftentimes debilitating disease. Although cure for the said autoimmune disease may not have yet been found, being able to manage the symptoms associated with the disease would always be a great help for those afflicted with MS.
The said drug, called dalfampridine, is the first ever FDA-approved drug for MS that can be taken orally. Not only that, it is also the first FDA-approved therapy for treating impaired walking. Unlike most current drugs that treat multiple sclerosis by decreasing inflammation that causes damage to the central nervous system, dalfampridine works by improving nerve impulses despite the damage caused by MS.
Although only recently approved by the FDA. DA, dalfampridine’s therapeutic value was first discovered in the 1960’s by Dr. Floyd Davis. Dr. Davis, who was then a neurologist in training and then became a doctor at Rush University Medical Center, became intrigued by the fact that lower body temperature seems to allow electrical impulses to travel through nerve fibers despite the damage caused by MS. He went on to look for a compound that can mimic the effects of lower body temperature. He later found out about dalfampridine which blocks the potassium ion channels in nerve fibers. Dalfampridine was then commonly used by scientists to study normal nerve conduction. Doctors in Bulgaria then was using it to help patients recover from anesthesia-induced paralysis faster, although they didn’t necessarily know how it worked.
With this insight, Dr. Rush then did a small study in 1983 and used the drug by injection in 11 patients with impaired motor function and eyesight due to MS. After just a single dose, the patients amazingly was able to display significant improvements in their walk as well as vision. Currently, dalfampridine is being marketed in the US under the brand name Ampyra by Acorda Therapeutics Inc.