Saturday, May 29, 2010

New medication for MS shows promise


NORFOLK, Va. -- A new pill approved by the FDA in March may be a potential medical breakthrough for the nearly 10,000 Virginians living with Multiple Sclerosis.

MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system and stops people from moving.

Lamont Walker of Virginia Beach leans on a cane when he walks because his left foot does not move very well anymore.

He was diagnosed with MS in 1991, which was a devastating blow to this avid athlete.

"Back in '85 I went to Booker T and we won the state championship, and I was named Eastern district player of the year," he said.

Eventually he had to give up basketball, but never gave up on himself.

"I know I have multiple sclerosis but it doesn't have me," he said.

His doctor, Marcus Rice, prescribed a new drug called Ampyra, and they are seeing dramatic results.

"It is just so amazing to me that it happens like that," said Walker, as his foot bobbed up and down.

His Neurologist, Dr. Marcus Rice said, "What it seems to do is it helps to improve the conduction of electrical current through the spinal chord."

Dr. Rice cautions, however, that the pill it is not a cure. Side effects can include tingling, nausea and headache, which usually go away in a few weeks. There is also a risk of seizures, and the medication does not work for everyone.

"But those who do respond well, respond remarkably well, and they're able to walk 25 percent faster, and in some cases have been able to get rid of canes, or walkers, or even wheelchairs," said Rice.

Lamont does not dream of getting back on the basketball court, but the new treatment is giving him a shot at a new goal.

"I just want to be able to walk with my daughter and my son to just hold hands and walk around the block, that's my goal," he said.