Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a rare and unpredictable autoimmune disease in which the body’s innate immune system attacks cells of the nervous system and breaks down the communication between nerve cells. The best current estimates show that nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with MS. The disease course of MS is unpredictable, and the cause is still unknown, but many individuals with MS may live symptom free for most of their lives. However, in some individuals debilitating symptoms may develop which include numbness or weakness of limbs, tremors, vision problems, fatigue, and problems with bowel and bladder function.
While there is no cure for MS, treatment focuses on modifying the progression of the disease and targets the immune system to prevent nerve damage. And while several disease modifying treatments exists, most patients with MS have a relapsing-remitting disease course. This means that the patient will experience periods of new MS-related symptoms (or relapses) that improve partially or completely for periods of time, and the disease enters a remission phase for months or years. In a recent study published in Frontiers in Neurology, researchers investigated the long-term efficacy of two drugs that are used for patients with highly active relapsing-remitting MS.
As discussed in the video, Natalizumab has been a treatment for relapsing-remitting MS for the past 16 years. Additionally, fingolimod is another approved treatment for the disease. However, no study has directly compared the two drugs in terms of efficacy in patients after long-term use. In their study, the researchers compared patients who have taken either drug and compared time to disability improvement and time to disability worsening. It was found that the drug Natalizumab was superior to the other drug in terms of relapse to MS symptoms and other markers as determined by brain scans. As such, the drug is more beneficial to MS patients and provides relief from symptoms and improves the lives of patients.