Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an auto-immune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. No one knows what causes multiple sclerosis; a virus, a defective gene, or environmental factors may be to blame. Unfortunately, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are treatment options to manage the symptoms. One of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis is shaking and tremors of the arms and legs – new research published July 2, 2012 demonstrates that injections of botulinum toxin type A (Botox) may help ease the tremors of MS patients.
MS Treatment: Botox Study
Dr. Anneke van der Walt, Neurologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and research fellow with the University of Melbourne in Australia, studied 23 people with MS who were given either the Botox injection or a placebo injection for three months. Researchers measured the patient’s ability to write and draw before, during, and after the injections. Researchers found that patients who received the Botox injection had significant improvement in their tremors, however, 42 percent of patients who received the Botox injection experienced mild muscle weakness for up to two weeks after the treatment, compared to the six percent of patients who received the placebo.
Treating Multiple Sclerosis: Interview With Dr. Anneke van der Walt
Decoded Science had the opportunity to interview Dr. Anneke van der Walt in regard to this research.
Decoded Science: What inspired you to conduct this research?
Dr. van der Walt: “We knew that Botox had been tried for other neurological conditions that cause tremor, especially Essential Tremor (the most common neurological cause of arm tremor) and decided to try Botox in a few of our patients who were greatly disabled from their MS-related tremor but who were not responding to the usual treatments. We generally observed a excellent response to the Botox treatment, and decided to test the drug in a scientifically designed trial.”