Individuals determined to be "at risk" for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) found themselves on the receiving end of some good news yesterday. A groundbreaking new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has demonstrated that early drug treatment can significantly delay the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS). The study's authors believe the research could result in a fundamental change in treatment for MS.
The NEJM study found that early treatment with interferon beta-1a (Avonex ®) reduced the rate of development of MS by over 44 percent versus treatment with placebo. The multi-center trial followed 383 people who had one symptom of MS but were not yet diagnosed with the disease. An additional positive note found in the study was that patients in the treament group experienced a relative reduction in the number and volume of brain lesions viewed through MRI scans.
The trial was halted early when it bacame apparent that the positive results were so overwhelming. The patients in the placebo group were offered the benefits of treatment.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that affects approximately 400,000 Americans and about one million individuals worldwide. Over 200 new cases are diagnosed each week. Until now, there have been no guidelines for treating individuals who appear at risk of developing MS.