Scientists believe that a commonly used drug by asthma patients could assist in the treatment of multiple sclerosis when given alongside standard medication.

A new study suggests that preliminary results indicated that albuterol, routinely prescribed for respiratory ailments, has the power to enhance the effects of glatiramer acetate that is used as regular treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis.

The author of the study Dr. Samia J. Khoury, believes that since albuterol helps reduce a substance in the body that is linked to the onset of MS, it might be prudent to use it as an add-on treatment for MS patients.

"Albuterol causes the cells to change the type of interleukin they produce to one that is beneficial in MS," says Khoury, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The study confirmed the premise that albuterol enhances the impact of glatiramer acetate or Copaxone. It impacts the cells that promote or reduce the growth of cells involved in the process of inflammation that drives MS.

The study revolved around 44 patients of MS who were being treated with glatiramer acetate using the MS functional composite, a scale that measures arm, leg, hand and mental functions. The study group found marked improvement in leg functions within the first year of those who were given albuterol in addition to the regular treatment.

Neither the patients nor the doctors knew who received albuterol and brain imaging showed that inflammation had reduced after treatment in both the groups, though in one the improvement appeared to be faster.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain and spinal column resulting in problems walking, breathing, and speaking. The disease destroys the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells leading to their death. Except in severe cases, people with MS have a normal life expectancy and live fairly routine lives along with treatment.