Understanding the Role of Biologics in Treating Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative and demyelinating autoimmune disease of the central nervous system and one of the principal causes of nontraumatic neurological disability among young adults.
Treatment of the disease is complex and often requires a multifaceted approach to help curve acute attacks and manage disease progression.
In the last decade, science has made great strides in yielding more targeted and increasingly potent biologic treatments for Multiple Sclerosis, resulting in a favorable long-term outlook for many patients. But what are biologics, and how do they help treat MS?
Watch the Video: Understanding the Role of Biologics in Treating Multiple Sclerosis
What Are Biologic Therapies?
Biologic drugs are medications designed to stimulate, suppress, or restore the immune system’s ability to fight disease. The drugs can also help protect the body from adverse effects stemming from specific treatments.
Biologic therapies involve substances known as biologic response modifiers (BRMs). Our bodies produce BRMs in small quantities in response to infection and other illnesses. However, scientists are now able to create these substances in laboratories in sufficiently large amounts to use in the treatment of chronic diseases such as MS.
How Biologics Help Treat Multiple Sclerosis
Different biologic drugs are available to treat MS. Each medication approaches treatment in two ways.
The first approach relates to reducing the number of flare-ups or attacks. MS attacks occur when white blood cells in the brain cause inflammation that damages the myelin or protective membrane around the nerves.
When the myelin is missing or damaged, the nerve is exposed, which causes slowing or the complete stop of brain signals. As a result, MS patients may develop blurry vision, slurred speech, trouble thinking clearly, tingling in the arms, leg weakness, and impaired bladder control.
The second therapeutic approach pertains to reducing brain inflammation to improve the patient’s condition.
MS patients have chronic low-grade inflammation in their brains, and even if the inflammation does not produce an attack, it still contributes to the disease progression by slowly damaging the myelin. Various biologic medications have proven effective at reducing chronic inflammation and improving the quality of life of many patients.
How to Know If Biologic Therapy is Right for You?
Only a doctor can determine if biologic therapy is right for you.
There are many biologic infusion medications available, including Ocrevus®, designed to help reduce relapse rate and slow disease progression, Tysabri®, which blocks the movement of damaging immune cells from the bloodstream to the brain and spinal cord, and Lemtrada®, helpful in targeting specific proteins on the surface of immune cells and reducing the number of white blood cells to lower relapse rate.
In many cases, it can take trying different medications and doses to find the one that works best for your unique condition. For this reason, therapy consistency and open communication with your physician is vital.
The right biologic therapy could help you regain independence and significantly improve your quality of life.