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MS programs collaborate for cure

May 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the nerves in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the central nervous system. Many women get the news in the prime of their lives between the ages of 20 and 40. It can sound like a devastating diagnosis, but one local crusader is not only fighting for herself but for all MS patients.Peace and Love. Nancy Davis calls it the universal language that drives her successful jewelry company. But that's not what she found out in the medical world when she started her 17-year battle against multiple sclerosis.

"They told me that the most that I could look forward to was operating the remote control on my TV set. I was a young mom with three young kids and I was so devastated," said Nancy Davis.

MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the nerves in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the central nervous system.

Every expert Nancy spoke to appeared to be duplicating research. She was frustrated that few scientists were communicating and sharing information. So she set up the Nancy Davis Foundation and asked the nation's top seven MS research programs to work together.

"Doctors everywhere should want to communicate on all levels and really work to find a cure. People are suffering unnecessarily and they don't have to," said Davis.

MS is one of those fields that doesn't get a lot of funding. So collaboration is key to finding a cure.

"This collaboration is unique in medicine," said Dr. Leslie Weiner, USC.

USC researchers are collaborating with UCSF, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Yale, Oregon Health Sciences and the Cleveland Clinic to fast track different treatment modalities.

Dr. Weiner says an MS diagnosis is not as devastating as even five years ago.

"We have six licensed drugs now for the treatment of MS. That's made a whole different game," said Dr. Weiner.

The team is also investigating two different drugs including the chemotherapy agent Campath which has shown to lower disability and relapse rate more than 70-percent.

"I have definitely benefited from the research," said Davis.

And she wants every MS patient to have the same benefits.

"The future is so much brighter, there's hope and options. There are things you can do. You need to educate yourself," said Davis.

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