Posted Monday, January 9, 2012
News from ABC News
For three decades Tracy Ofri, 48, of Valley Stream, N.Y., suffered with multiple sclerosis.
At age 19, Ofri lost sight in one eye. Her unpredictable monthlong bouts of blurred vision, painful breathing and numbness throughout her body weighed her down.
And within her body, her own immune system attacked her myelin, the fatty substances that protected the nerves in her brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Like many others who have the type of MS Ofri does -- relapsing and remitting MS -- the condition had her riding its ups and downs.
"When the doctor came into the room, he told me that there was no treatment, and that I had a disease with no medicine, and no cure," said Ofri, who was diagnosed in 1987. "I didn't even get a pamphlet. I had no information."
For decades she tried different drugs that brought on severe side effects. Then in 2007, Ofri enrolled in a clinical trial for a new drug that was soon hailed as the first oral MS medication to hit the market. Studies for the drug, Gilenya, showed that it reduced the number of relapses by keeping the white blood cells under control.
And for Ofri, it did just that. She hasn't relapsed since she started taking Gilenya, a drug approved just last year to reduce the frequency of clinical relapses and reduce inflammation in cells found in the central nervous system.
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