"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

MS Week 

Yesterday, and FDA advisory panel recommended that an MS drug, Tysabri, be returned to the market, despite the possibility of severe side effects. I fully think that in cases like this, where a drug is one of the few (only?) effective options for disease management but has serious side-effects, it should be up to patients and doctors to evaluate the individual risk-benefit balance. This does of course require that doctors have a good enough understanding of risk-benefit AND the ability to explain things to patients, but that's another story.

Also this week, the FDA agreed to begin trials of a potential MS vaccine. The vaccine does not prevent people from developing MS, but instead reduces flare-ups. It works like this: clinicians take a sample of the MS patient's blood, including the myelin-specific white blood cells that cause MS. The cells are grown in culture, inactivated, and re-injected. The healthy immune system then becomes sensitized to these 'renegade' cells, and seems to kill off even new non-inactivated ones. That is really cool.

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