Albuterol: For treatment of acute episodes of bronchospasm or prevention of asthmatic symptoms. The use of albuterol inhalation aerosol can be continued as medically indicated to control recurring bouts of bronchospasm.
Antibodies: Proteins made by the immune system that bind to structures (antigens) they recognize as foreign to the body.
Antigen: A structure foreign to the body, such as a virus. The body usually responds to antigens by producing antibodies.
Ataxia: A condition in which the muscles fail to function in a coordinated manner.
Aubagio: a pill developed by Sanofi-Aventis, but now run by its subsidiary, Genzyme, is similar to a drug that has been used by rheumatoid arthritis patients for years, so its safety profile is well known.
Avonex: Manufactured by Biogen, is a form of beta interferon known as interferon beta-1a. It is identical to the naturally occurring protein found in the human body. It is manufactured by extracting the drug from Chinese hamster ovary cells. Avonex is the same substance as Rebif but administered differently (30 mcg, intra-muscularly, once a week as against 22 mcg or 44 mcg, sub-cutaneously, 3 times a week for Rebif). Avonex is usually given in the large muscles of the thigh, upper arm, or hip.
Autoimmune Disease: A disease in which the body’s defense system malfunctions and attacks a part of the body rather than foreign matter.
Betaseron: Maufactured by Berlex, is a disease-modifying therapy (Interferon beta-1b)—a treatment that helps change the course of MS by slowing it down. Effective in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
BG-12: a pill developed by Biogen Idec, is expected to win FDA approval before the end of the year. Studies have shown that it reduces relapse rates by 50% and slows progression of the disease, compared with a placebo.
Blood/Brain Barrier: A membrane that controls the passage of substances from the blood into the central nervous system.
Botox: A protein toxin produced by the clostridium botulinum bacteria, onced used for cosemtic purposes to minimize wrinkles administered by small injections. Now it is being used to treat muscle spasticity in the arms and legs of MS patients.
Cerebrospinal Fluid: The colorless liquid, consisting partially of substances filtered from blood and partially by secretions released by brain cells, that circulates around and through the cavities of the brain and spinal cord. Physicians use a variety of tests; (electro-phoresis, isoelectric focusing, capillary isotachophoresis and radioimmunoassay), to study cerebrospinal fluid for abnormalities often associated with MS.
Copaxone: Manufactured by Teva, copaxone, a glatiramer acetate, previously known as copolymer-1, represents a different class of therapy for the treatment of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. It is an immunomodulator that appears to block myelin-specific autoimmune responses.
Cytokines: Powerful chemical substances secreted by T-cells. Cytokines are an important factor in the production of inflammation and show promise as treatments for MS.
Demyelination: Damage caused to myelin by recurrent attacks of inflammation. Demyelination ultimately results in nervous system scars, called plaques, which interrupt communications between the nerves and the rest of the body.
Experimental Allergic Encephalomyelitis (EAE): A chronic brain and spinal cord disease similar to MS which is induced by injecting myelin basic protein into laboratory animals.
Gadolinium: A chemical compound given during MRI scans that helps distinguish new lesions from old.
Gilenya: from Novartis, has been on the market for about two years and was the first M.S. treatment delivered by a pill. It has been shown to reduce relapses by 50% and brain shrinkage by 30%-40%.
Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLAs): Antigens, tolerated by the body, that correspond to genes that govern immune responses. Also known as major histocompatibility complex.
Immunoglobulin G (IgG): An antibody containing substance produced by human plasma cells in diseased central nervous system plaques. Levels of IgG are increased in the cerebrospinal fluid of most MS patients.
Interferons: Cytokines belonging to a family of antiviral proteins that occur naturally in the body. Gamma interferon is produced by immune system cells, enhances T-cell recognition of antigens and causes worsening of MS symptoms. Alpha and beta interferon probably exert a suppressive effect on the immune system and may be beneficial in the treatment of MS.
Lemtrada: from Genzyme, is not yet approved by the FDA, but company executives say it is expected to show an actual reversal of disability, instead of just delaying progression. It is delivered by injection five days in a row and then three days in a row a year later.
Lesion: An abnormal change in the structure of an organ due to disease or injury.
Lipitor: (atorvastatin calcium) tablets is a perscription drug used with diet to lower cholesterol.
Myelin: A fatty covering that insulates nerve cell fibers in the brain and spinal cord, myelin facilitates the smooth, high-speed transmission of electrochemical messages between these components of the central nervous system and the rest of the body. In MS, myelin is damaged through a process known as demyelination, which results in distorted or blocked signals.
Myelin Basic Protein (MBP): A major component of myelin. When myelin breakdown occurs (as in MS), MBP can often be found in abnormally high levels in the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid. When injected into laboratory animals, MBP induces experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, a chronic brain and spinal cord disease similar to MS.
Novantrone: Manufacurted by Immunex, belongs to the general group of medicines called antineoplastics. Prior to its approval for use in MS, it was used only to treat certain forms of cancer. It acts in MS by suppressing the activity of T cells, B cells, and macrophages that are thought to lead the attack on the myelin sheath.
Optic Neuritis: An inflammatory disorder of the optic nerve that usually occurs in only one eye and causes vision loss and sometimes blindness. It is generally temporary.
Paresthesias: Abnormal sensations such as numbness, prickling or “pins and needles.”
Plaques: Patchy areas of inflammation and demyelination typical of MS, plaques disrupt or block nerve signals that would normally pass through the regions affected by the plaques.
Rebif: Manufactured by Ares-Serono, is a form of beta interferon known as interferon beta-1a. It is identical to the naturally occurring protein found in the human body. Rebif is the same substance as Avonex but administered differently (22 mcg or 44 mcg, sub-cutaneously, 3 times a week as against 30 mcg, intra-muscularly, once a week for Avonex).
Receptor: A protein on a cell’s surface that allows the cell to identify antigens.
Retrobulbar Neuritis: An inflammatory disorder of the optic nerve that is usually temporary. It causes rapid loss of vision and may cause pain upon moving the eye.
Spasticity: Involuntary muscle contractions leading to spasms and stiffness or rigidity. In MS, this condition primarily affects the lower limbs.
Statins: A classor type of cholesterol-lowering medication that lowers LDL cholesterol levels by limiting the amount of cholesterol the body can make.
T-Cells: Immune system cells that develop in the thymus gland. Findings suggest that T-cells are implicated in myelin destruction.
Tysabri: Manufactured by Biogen-Idec., is the first monoclonal antibody approved for the treatment of MS. Tysabri works by blocking the effects of white blood cells and prevents them from entering the brain.
White Matter: Nerve fibers that are the site of MS lesions and underlie the gray matter of the brain and spinal cord.