vCJD sufferer stable after taking experimental drug

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Indy Lifestyle Online

A man who contracted variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE, has become the first sufferer no longer regarded as terminally ill after taking an experimental drug.

A man who contracted variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE, has become the first sufferer no longer regarded as terminally ill after taking an experimental drug.

Jonathan Simms, 20, from Belfast, developed the disease three years ago and was given only months to live. As his health deteriorated, his parents won a legal battle in order to allow him to take the experimental drug pentosan polysulphate.

Mr Simms was the first sufferer to begin taking the drug and is now believed to be the longest-surviving person infected with vCJD.

His father, Don Simms, described how his condition had stabilised after two years of taking the drug. "Jonathan is very stable," Mr Simms told BBC Radio Ulster. "The general consensus is that Jonathan Simms is no longer terminally ill. He is no longer in the last days or weeks of life - we hope they [the doctors] are right."

He said: "There was a 100 per cent certainty that Jonathan would not be here today without some form of treatment." The drug, which has blood-thinning and anti-inflammatory properties, is used to treat cystitis in the US but experts feared that it carried the risk of side-effects.

Dr Stephen Dealler, a consultant in micro-biology at Lancaster Royal Infirmary, said: "Everyone was shocked at how Jonathan responded. His condition seems to have stabilised."

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