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Study shows treating early symptoms may delay MS onset

8/11/2016

A new study suggests that starting medication for multiple sclerosis in people who show the beginning signs of the disease is linked with prolonging the time before the disease is definitively diagnosed.

The study involved people who had a first episode that was suggestive of MS, such as numbness, vision problems or problems with balance, and an MRI that showed signs of possible MS. Up to 85 percent of people in this situation, which is called clinically isolated syndrome, will in time be diagnosed with MS.  

The study started with 468 people randomly assigned to receive either early treatment with interferon beta-1b or a placebo. After participants were diagnosed with MS or after two years, the participants on the placebo could switch to interferon beta-1b or another drug. After 11 years, researchers re-evaluated the 278 people who were still participating in the study, which included 167 people in the early group and 111 people in the delayed group.

Those who received the early treatment were 33 percent less likely to be diagnosed with MS than those who received the delayed treatment. People in the early group also had more time before their first relapse of the disease than people in the delayed group, with 1,888 days compared to 931 days. The early group also had a lower overall yearly relapse rate of 0.21 compared to 0.26 for the delayed group, which is 19 percent lower.

The study was published in online issue of Neurology.



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