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Reported November 14, 2003

Walk with MS

HOUSTON (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Nearly 300,000 people in the United States have multiple sclerosis. One of the most common effects of the condition is that walking becomes difficult. Now, doctors hope a new drug will help improve walking and quality of life.

A simple walk across the room is not so simple for David Kolodny. If you can imagine what its like to walk on stilts or something like that, he says. Its just real awkward and very unbalancing.

Kolodny has multiple sclerosis. It started 20 years ago. He ultimately had to give up working. Now, this former businessman spends his days sitting at the computer. I really dont go the stores. I dont go the malls. Traveling has become kind of a burden.

This pill -- Fampridine-SR -- may make life a little easier for people with MS.

Walk with MSIf it improves walking speed for people who are using canes or walkers, then theyll be able to get around their house better and do more things in the day, says neurologist Bill Lindsey, M.D., of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

When the protective covering over the nerve is damaged, signals cant get through. Fampridine bridges the gap and allows nerve messages to get across.

Walk with MSDr. Lindsey says, Were hoping for a partial improvement in areas where the myelin has been damaged, but the nerve cells are intact. In a study on 68 patients, 27 percent reported improvement in symptoms. Only 2 percent on the placebo improved.

Since Kolodny is involved in a new study, hes still not sure if hes on the drug, but even if it doesnt help him, hes looking to the future. He says, If it can help find another medication that will help MS patients, then its worth it.

Fampridine is also being tested for its effectiveness in treating people with spinal cord injuries. Doctors expect to have the results of this study in 2004. Side effects may include numbness, tingling, headache, and insomnia.

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