Inflammation is caused by the White blood cells, or leukocytes (also spelled “leucocytes”) of the immune system as it tries to remove damaging cells in the body. In MS, it is thought that the immune system sends out white blood cells that are able to get through the blood brain barrier in order to attack the myelin, or protective coating of the nerves, thinking those are the damaging cells.
With MS, the signs of inflammation are seen in an ‘exacerbation’. With that comes the symptoms that people with multiple sclerosis experience; difficulty with balance, muscle weakness, muscle spasms or difficulty moving. With some people visual problems, swallowing, bladder and bowel difficulties or also cognitive impairment.
Dr. Bowser explained that the people of Acthar believe that exacerbations are due to inflammation, so the treatment of exacerbations is an anti-inflammatory.
QuestCor introduced the FDA approved exacerbation treatment, H.P. Acthar® Gel, or Acthar.
Acthar delivers proven relief of MS exacerbations by helping the body produce natural steroid hormones to reduce inflammation. Acthar is a prescription medication containing the hormone adrenocorticotropin (“a-DRE-no-cor-ti-co-tro-pin”), also known as ACTH.
When levels of ACTH are high, cortisol is released in greater quantities.
Acthar is a highly purified preparation of ACTH in gelatin. This ACTH hormone is naturally made in the anterior pituitary gland, which secretes it into the blood stream directly.
After ACTH is taken up slowly in the bloodstream and carried to the adrenal gland. ACTH stimulates the outer layer of cells of the adrenal gland (ie, the adrenal cortex) to produce steroid hormones, primarily cortisol, Cortisol is produced as a Prohormone, which enhances the strength of the hormone that already occurs in the body which are important in the physiological response to stress. Cortisol is involved in the control of a variety of physiological processes including blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and immune responses.
The Acthar injection can be administered subcutaneous or as intramuscular. The recommended dose is daily 80-120 units for 2-3 weeks for acute exacerbations.
Acthar is designed to provide a prolonged release of the medication.
Acthar may cause side effects similar to side effects that happen due to treatment with steroid medicines. Side effects of H.P. Acthar Gel may include infections, stomach ulcers, and changes in mood and behavior such as irritability, depression, or trouble sleeping.