Tuesday, 9 April 2013

It feels like years since it's been here

Feel that? Close your eyes. Feel it?

It's the sun! That gorgeous, glowing orb is once again shedding heat and not just light!

I reckon it's nearly time to declare that Spring has arrived. The groundhogs are out and about (at least one squeaky little kit so far this year), the squirrels are racing around, and even the crocuses are showing their delicate heads. I love this time of the year - feels good to get down to a mere two or three layers of clothing again.

On this thread of vim and vigour, Abbey is on week two of recovery from her TPLO surgery. My house is like a canine spa these days - moist heat therapy, cold therapy, passive range of motion exercises, stretching, massage - everything but pedicures and cucumber eye pads. The living room floor is covered in blankets for her to rest on. Lots of non-slip padding to help with her comfort - yoga mats are strewn from the back door to the blanketing. All seems to be going well so far (fingers crossed, thumbs held, wood touched and knocked). She's been using the repaired leg pretty consistently from the time we picked her up from the surgeon, so here's hoping her recovery continues on this positive path.

And speaking of positive paths, Americans with MS have a new therapy option as of Tecfidera (formerly called BG-12) has been FDA approved and is making its way into the homes of our neighbours to the South. [edit: since starting to write this post a few hours ago (hush, I'm working at the same time), Health Canada has also approved Tecfidera!] As I mentioned in my last post, the mechanism behind Tecfidera is still not fully understood, but it appears to potentially be a trinity of sorts. It shows promise of antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory properties. Now, y'all have hard me ramble on about antioxidants helping fight the oxidative stress people with MS have before, so I won't bore you with that again, but immunomodulation is when you adjust a body's immune response to a preferred level. Anti-inflammatory is pretty self-explanatory - good stuff that fights off inflammation.

There have been two studies on Tecfidera, known as DEFINE and CONFIRM. In these studies, Tecfidera reduced MS relapse rates by ~50% (over placebo), and reduced the progression of disability by ~30%. [Sidebar: I so hate the word "progression" when used in this way]. If you're keeping score at home, the "Big Four" MS drugs (Copaxone, Rebif, Avonex, and Betaseron) all reduce relapse rates by around 35%. A fifth common drug, Tysabri, cuts relapse rates by ~65%.

So why all the kerfuffle about Tecfidera? Uno, it's an oral medication, so no injections! Dos, big reduction in relapse rates and progression of disability. Tres, it doesn't have nearly the same risk of a really ugly (oh yeah, and fatal) viral disease (Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML) as Tysabri has. To recap, Tysabri is mentioned above as cutting relapses the most of all the MS drugs. Cuatro, there's a chance that this drug provides the be all and end all desired property of any possible MS therapy - neuroprotection! If there's possibility that a drug can protect the CNS from whatever the hell causes all the damage in the first place, we have started on a weedy, rocky road to suppressing disease progression. Now that's progress.

That was the extent of my counting in Spanish, btw. Multilingual I am not!

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