MS: The Benefit of Early Treatment

Multiple sclerosis treatment at early warning signs might slow progression

(RxWiki News) Beginning to take medication to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) at the early signs might slow the disease's progression, a new study found.

This study found that starting treatment at the first episode that was suggestive of MS — like numbness, vision trouble, balance problems and an MRI that showed signs of possible MS— may prolong the time before multiple sclerosis is definitively diagnosed. This situation is called clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). 

In this study, some people were given interferon beta-1b, an MS medication (early treatment group). Others were given a placebo first then were given treatment for MS after being diagnosed with MS or after two years (delayed treatment group). This study looked at 278 people who had had an episode suggestive of the early warning signs of MS. 

In patients with MS, the immune system degrades the protective coating around nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. There is currently no cure for MS.

After 11 years, the patients who had started treatment early were about 33 percent less likely to have been diagnosed with MS, these researchers found. Those who were treated early also had more time before their first relapse (with 1,888 days) when compared to those who received treatment later (931 days).

This study was published in the journal Neurology

Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals funded this research. Study authors disclosed multiple conflicts of interest, most of which involved funding from pharmaceutical companies.

Review Date: 
August 16, 2016