Chapter 1

Multiple Sclerosis Drug Therapy: From the Classical Pharmaceutical Down to Cellular and Molecular Approach

Roberta Rigolio, Elisa Ballarini, Maria Grimoldi, Margherita Gardinetti and Gabriele Di Sante

Abstract

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) affecting over 2.000.000 individuals around the world. Although MS etiopathogenesis is still not completely defined environmental factor exposure and genetic background are relevant in disease development. Moreover, MS shows heterogeneous onset and course so that different disease forms can be described which are all characterized by motor and/or sensory and even cognitive impairment. </p><p> Two steps in the disease progression can be described. First MS lesions are originated by the activated immune system which recognizes CNS myelin as a foreign element thus leading to the formation of demyelinated plaques that evolve into axonal damage and subsequent neurodegeneration over the time. </p><p> Since the beginning MS therapy has been focused on counteracting immune system action. Nevertheless, besides the immunosuppressive/immunomodulating drugs such as Glatiramer acetate, Beta-interferons and steroids, the advance in the comprehension of the immune-mediated mechanisms has sustained the development and use of molecular and cellular-focused approaches, e.g. monoclonal antibodies and stem cells. </p><p> At the same time very few weapons are specifically available for fighting MS neurodegenerative progression. </p><p> We report an overview on MS and both old and new therapeutic approaches to the disease.

Total Pages: 3-113 (111)

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