Fast Attack on MS

Multiple sclerosis patients who receive immediate treatment do not have much better outcomes

(RxWiki News) The sooner you treat a disease like multiple sclerosis (MS), the better the outcome, right? Well, that statement appears to be somewhat true.

MS patients had less relapses (attacks of the disease) when they started treatment immediately at the time of clinically isolated syndrome (the first attack of MS). However, these patients did not improve their disability outcomes compared to those who started treatment slightly later.

"Start treating your MS early."

R. Philip Kinkel, M.D., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues wanted to see if immediately starting treatment at the time of a first attack would change the course of MS over 10 years.

More specifically, the researchers compared outcomes of patients treated with interferon beta-1a (the immediate treatment group) to those of patients who received a placebo (the control group).

They found that patients in the immediate treatment group had fewer relapses after five to 10 years, compared to those in the control group. At the end of 10 years, the immediate treatment patients had no improvement in disability or T2-weighted lesions (areas that indicate damaged nerve tissue). Immediate treatment also did not change the amount of patients developing progressive MS - a form of MS in which disability gradually gets worse without any relapses or remissions.

To come to these results, Dr. Kinkel and colleagues randomly split 155 patients into the immediate treatment group or the control group. Immediate treatment meant that patients started interferon beta-1a therapy within a month of developing clinically isolated syndrome.

The results of the study show that immediate treatment is somewhat beneficial to patients with a high risk of developing full-fledged MS. However, immediate treatment had no impact on disability.

The results of this clinical trial are published in the Archives of Neurology

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Review Date: 
October 11, 2011