Colitis Home > What Is Natalizumab Used For?
A healthcare provider may prescribe natalizumab when a person cannot use or has not adequately responded to other treatments for multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease. Natalizumab is approved to help reduce symptoms of Crohn's disease or slow down the disability caused by multiple sclerosis (MS). It can also help prevent MS relapses. At this time, it is only approved for use in adults.
An Overview of Uses for NatalizumabNatalizumab (Tysabri®) is a prescription medication approved to:
- Slow down disability and prevent relapses (times when symptoms worsen) in people with multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Treat and prevent symptoms in people with moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease.
Because it increases the risk for a rare brain infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), natalizumab is generally reserved for people who have not adequately responded to or cannot take other medications to treat their condition. It should not be used in combination with other medicines used to treat MS, or with other common Crohn's disease treatments.
Multiple SclerosisMultiple sclerosis, or MS as it is commonly referred, is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). It normally first appears between the ages of 20 and 40, and affects women twice as often as men.
MS occurs when the body's immune system attacks myelin, the fatty covering that insulates nerve cell fibers in the brain and spinal cord. When the myelin becomes damaged, nerve impulses traveling to and from the central nervous system are slowed down or blocked completely, leading to the symptoms of MS.
The symptoms of MS can range from mild to severe, and will vary from person to person. In general, a person's symptoms will depend on how much myelin has been lost from the nerves and what parts of the central nervous system are affected. In the early stage of the disease, symptoms may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Tingling or numbness
- Loss of balance
- Blurred or double vision and/or eye pain
- Fatigue (see Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue).
As the disease progresses, other possible symptoms may include:
- Spasticity or muscle tightness due to increased muscle tone (see Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis)
- Impaired sense of temperature and touch
- Bladder or bowel problems
- Depression (see Multiple Sclerosis and Depression)
- Difficulty speaking
- Memory loss.
There are four general patterns of multiple sclerosis. Theses four patterns include:
- Relapsing-remitting MS: This pattern has clearly defined periods of increased symptoms (called relapses or flare-ups) followed by a period of partial or complete recovery when little or no symptoms are present (called remission). This is the most common type of MS.
- Primary-progressive MS: In this pattern, there is a slow and steady worsening of symptoms from the first sign of illness, with no clear relapse or remission.
- Secondary-progressive MS: This is a progressive form of the disease that generally follows an initial period of relapsing-remitting MS.
- Progressive-relapsing MS: This is a relatively rare form of the disease where people experience a steady worsening of symptoms with occasional relapses.
(Click Types of Multiple Sclerosis to learn more about these four patterns of MS.)
Natalizumab does not cure MS, but may help reduce the number of relapses and slow down the progression of disability in people with relapsing forms of MS. It has not been studied for longer than two years. It also has not been studied in people with progressive forms of MS.