The drug Campath offers hope to those people who have just been diagnosed with early stage MS, but what do patients whoíve tried the drug actually think? Anthony Dean, who we heard from earlier in the programme was put on the original trials for the drug. He spoke with Hannah Critchlow.
Anthony - Well, when I was diagnosed in the first place, the first question I had was about what treatment was available. I'd done some research online, I'd Googled my symptoms and I kinda had an idea what I might be diagnosed with. And then on the back of it had looked up what would be available. After speaking to the consultant it became obvious there were two options to me. Either take the standard course of beta interferon, which wouldíve been done by an injection, or I was offered to take part in a trial.
My first question was, how successful has the trial been so far? And I was told that early indicators were that it was proving to be very successful. So, I decided to go ahead with it, in a sense, take the gamble, because I had nothing else to lose. I was invited back, a couple of months later, into hospital for 5 days of an infusion of Campath, alongside steroids.
Hannah - So, you were diagnosed with MS and then 3 months later, you started this Campath treatment and then that was 1 week duration of the treatment in the hospital?
Anthony - That's right, and that was all the treatment I had in my first year.
Hannah - What consequences were there of this treatment?
Anthony - The treatment itself wasnít too bad. I was in hospital being well looked after. I felt a little bit sick, I think mainly from the steroids more so than the actual treatment itself. On the back of it, though, there is a side effect, known as Campath rash. Essentially, you sort of break out in a reddish, purply kind of rash. But again, other than looking a bit like Barney the dinosaur, there's nothing actually wrong with you. It just looks a bit strange to people you donít know and what you've been doing.
Hannah - Did you regain sensation in the left side of your body?
Anthony - Itís not a matter if it will give you back the sensation. Everything that I had had, problems that I'd had in the past had always come back and itís part of the relapsing and remitting form of MS. It comes and then it goes again. So, at the time, I wasnít actually suffering from any problems with MS. So, I'd gone into a hospital healthy and came out healthy. But since that point, I havenít had one symptom of MS.
Hannah - So, how long have you been MS free?
Anthony - That would be 10 years this week.
Hannah - And do you think that your diagnosis and your subsequent treatment has changed your life in a tangible way that you might want to tell the listeners about?
Anthony - I think it would be wrong to say that I've re-evaluated my life and seized the moment. That's not the kind of person I am.
One of the things on the back of it is that I started to take my fitness a bit more seriously - I took up running about 5 years ago, and ran half marathons, which is good fun. Last month, in fact, I did three half marathons in a month in order to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. So, so far, I've raised about £2,500.