THE MULTIPLE COURSES OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

In addition to significant fatigue, the most common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, according to the National MS Society, are numbness or tingling; weakness; dizziness and vertigo; walking difficulties due to weakness, loss of balance, and sensory deficit; spasticity (stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms); vision problems including blurred vision, poor contrast or color vision, and pain; bladder and bowel dysfunction; sexual problems; general pain; emotional changes including depression, mood swings, and irritability; and cognitive changes including problem solving, focusing, and remembering. There are additional less common and secondary symptoms in some cases. Multiple sclerosis symptoms and their severity vary from individual to individual.

  • RRMS—Relapsing-Remitting MS is the most common course for the disease and occurs in about 85 percent of the 2.3 million people worldwide with MS, where they experience unpredictable flareups of symptoms which then subside. Attacks are followed by remissions, periods of partial or even complete recovery. With RRMS, it “can be further characterized as either active (with relapses and/or evidence of new MRI activity) or not active, as well as worsening (a confirmed increase in disability over a specified period of time following a relapse) or not worsening,” per the National MS Society. New symptoms may appear at any time. In the majority of RRMS cases, after 15 to 20 years, PPMS occurs.
  • PPMS—In Primary Progressive MS (PPMS), the disease is progressive from the start, without any relapses or remissions. It can also be described as active or not active, and with or without progression, with progression defined as an objective measure of worsening over time, with or without relapse. About 15 percent of those with MS are diagnosed with PPMS.
  • SPMS—Secondary-Progressive MS is a progressive worsening of function that usually follows the initial RRMS course. It can also be described as active or not active; and additionally as with or without progression. Disability gradually increases over time.
  • PRMS—Progressive-Relapsing MS is the least common type, affecting just five percent of MS patients. This form consists of relapses with gradual progression or worsening in between those relapses. This type does not involve any periods of remission.

Many advances have been made in the treatment of and search for causes and cures since MS was first recognized in 1868 and more research is being conducted today than ever before. The National MS Society alone invested $40 million in 2017 in research projects and initiatives, with 360 projects under active management. The year 2017 also saw the first therapy for PPMS approved by the FDA. Overall, there are 15 disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) approved for relapsing forms of MS. Research is critical to developing treatments and therapies for MS, and for eventually determining the cause, preventing, and curing the debilitating disease.

However, research on MS is difficult because many studies require patients to have recently experienced an attack or relapse and these events are unpredictable. In fact, years may pass between each episode. This can make enrolling patients in an MS research study complicated. Volunteers with MS are encouraged to pre-screen for research studies so that when a relapse occurs, they can participate in a trial right away.

Meridien Research’s Tampa office specializes in multiple sclerosis research studies. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at (813) 877-8839.