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Scientists are seeking new strategies to fight multiple sclerosis

To find clues to origins of MS, researchers look beyond the immune system

3:30pm, November 29, 2017
ms illsutration

BREAKING DOWN MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS  Taking narrow aim at the immune system isn’t enough, so researchers are looking for new treatment targets within nerve cells and even in the gut. 

James Davis used to be an avid outdoorsman. He surfed, hiked, skateboarded and rock climbed. Today, the 48-year-old from Albuquerque barely gets out of bed. He has the most severe form of multiple sclerosis, known as primary progressive MS, a worsening disease that destroys the central nervous system. Diagnosed in May 2011, Davis relied on a wheelchair within six months. He can no longer get up to go to the bathroom or grab a snack from the fridge.

Davis hoped life might improve when he was chosen in 2012 to participate in a clinical trial of a drug called ocrelizumab. The drug offered a first sliver of hope for patients waiting for a cure, or at least something to slow down the disease’s staggering march. Early research suggested the drug could help some of the roughly 60,000 people in the United States, like Davis, suffering from primary progressive MS. The drug also held promise for patients with the other major form of the disease, relapsing-remitting MS, which

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