Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Developments

Dr. Kantor Health Guide
  • The World Congress on Treatment and Research in MS took place recently. At this important MS meeting there were scientific oral presentations and posters; this meeting is important because it updates all of us clinicians and scientists on the latest and greatest in the MS world. There is presentation of laboratory research, but mostly there are updates on clinical trials.

    As we move towards oral and less frequent intravenous (IV) medications, such as the monoclonal antibodies, people with MS are asking us all the time about when these will be available and sometimes get disappointed when they realize that they are still a few years away.

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    So how can we speed up that process?

    Well, for many of the ongoing clinical trials, enrollment (getting people signed up to be in the trial) is taking longer than expected. This is for many reasons:

    1. There are more treatment options available now and therefore many people prefer to be on these standard medicines rather than testing out the newer ones.
    2. Some people are scared by the idea of not know which medicine they are getting and being part of the group testing out its safety.
    3. Many of these trials involve placebo (fake medicine) as a comparison of the real medicine being tested. So there is a chance that in this trial you would not get any active medicine.
    4. Taking part in a clinical trials is often time consuming.

    All of these are very real and very important considerations when deciding if being in a clinical trial is right for you.

    It is important to realize, however, that without people taking part in clinical trials, there will not be development of newer medicines to treat MS.

    By being part of a clinical trial you are forging the way forward for the entire MS community by helping to develop new medicines.

    People with MS often ask when the newest medicine will be available, but without people enrolling in clinical trials this will not be possible.

    So what do you do if you are interested in getting involved in a clinical trial?

    You should speak with your neurologist and see if they are doing any clinical trials at their office. If note, perhaps they could recommend some places in town where clinical trials are being performed. If you live in an area without clinical trials, it may be possible for you to sill be involved by the sponsor of the trial covering your travel expenses during the trial. You may also want to contact your local National MS Society Chapter (NMSS) to find a list of clinical trials going on close to your home. Some of the trials going on nowadays have websites where you can sign up and be contacted by the local research coordinator to see if you qualify for the trial.

    You should always think about the risks and potential benefits of being in a trial for you. The risks include the unknown safety of the medicines being studied and the potential benefits are how you may improve on the medicine and the likelihood that you can be on an extension phase at the end of the main one, where everyone receives the real medicine and not placebo (which will allow you to receive the medicine at no charge while it is still being studied).

  • The biggest benefit of all is to the entire MS community. The Multiple Sclerosis Patient Network (M*S*P*N) is about everyone helping each other. Without the brave people who took part in all the past clinical trials, we would not have 6 medicines right now approved for the use in MS.

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    We should all recognize this and say ‘thank you’ to those who get involved in clinical trials.

Published On: November 13, 2008