I keep reading about potential cures for multiple sclerosis but how lose are we? Let us take a look at the situation.
Researchers and the medical profession already know that MS is a complicated disease with numerous symptoms. Also, they know that that it is not completely understood. That being the case, it is difficult to see how a cure may be imminent.
But let’s look at the current situation with an open mind.
On the drug front, there are numerous disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that are used to slow the course of the disease. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 15 such DMTs mostly for use in treating people with relapsing MS.
The FDA most recently approved ocrelizumab Ocrevus (brand name Ocrevus), at the end of March. This has been given the green light for treating both relapsing and primary progressive forms of the illness.
Ocrelizumab is an immunosuppressant that targets B cells, believed to have a key part in the destruction of myelin.
Patients receiving ocrelizumab also had fewer brain lesions and less loss of brain volume than the placebo group.
Scientists can take 10 to 15 years to develop new medicines to the stage where they have approval of regulatory authorities to being commercially available. Clinical trials are an important part of his development process.
Some prospective therapies now in the pipeline are:
Laquinimod is an experimental drug in phase III trials for relapsing MS, and phase II
Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT or AHSCT) “reboots” the immune system in people with all types of MS. HSCT can halt the progress of the disease but does not repair damage already done.
MD1003 is high-dose biotin. It is being tested in phase III trials for both primary and secondary progressive MS and may promote myelin repair.
Siponimod is being developed for use in SPMS.
This all goes to show that research towards new MS treatments is moving fast. These new therapies include: resistance training, antioxidants, and gut microbes.
But is a cure for MS imminent?
As much as I wish it is just around the corner, the answer has to be NO.
DMTs help relieve symptoms, reduce disease progression and so on – but they are not cures. We maybe at a point where we are making significant progress to hope for a breakthrough soon, but nothing more.
It is a shame but I really cannot be any more positive than that.
Speaking personally, I have not yet found a DMT that I would be prepared to take. But that’s my choice, not my recommendation. As there is no cure yet, I am convinced that HSCT is the next best that is currently available.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.