Multiple sclerosis drug frampridine can improve walking skills, trials show.
Two-fifths of the patients taking the drug seemed to benefit by the drug. It also positively influences leg strength in a majority of these individuals.
Findings revealed that the medication made by Acorda co. improves the condition by slowing the loss of potassium from nerve cells caused by the underlying disease.
AdvertisementBut the study also reported that while the drug improved mobility in some patients, it had no effect on the overall speed of the disease in such individuals.
British MS Society researches believe the new drug has a considerable impact on the quality of life in MS patients particularly those who are still capable of walking, but at a slow pace and with difficulty.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the myelin covering the nerve cells, leading to numerous physical and mental symptoms including limb weakness, blurred vision and balance problems.
Drug company Acorda tested the drug on 240 patients, and found more than two-fifths of people showed improvement.
It plans to seek a US safety licence early in 2009.
Those who benefited from the drug needed, on average, 25% less time to cover a distance of 25 feet (7.5m).
In addition, leg strength was found to improve among many of those taking the drug.
Ron Cohen, the chief executive of Acorda, said: "There is no approved treatment today that addresses walking disability for patients with multiple sclerosis.
"It is a fundamental feature of multiple sclerosis and one of the most worrisome features because it can imply loss of independence."
A spokesman for the MS Society said that the plan to seek a US licence was "exciting news".
"MS can severely affect people's mobility, and in turn their sense of independence.
"The society would welcome any drug that is proven to help with walking disability and allow people with MS to regain some of their freedom."