Multiple Sclerosis: The importance of early treatment

Symptoms Occur over Years, not days

Because Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a multi-factorial disease, the symptoms may be confused with other conditions and diseases. These nonspecific symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Walking difficulties.
  • Numbness.
  • Spasticity.
  • Problems with vision.
  • Vertigo and dizziness.

These symptoms can be minor at first, such as blurred vision that lingers for a short period of time and goes away. Many times, the symptoms are ignored, until something drastic happens. A patient might have had the minor symptoms come and go, thinking nothing of them. Then, one day, a severe flare up seems to come out of nowhere. This can be frightening and sometimes even life threatening.”

An Early Diagnosis

Combined with family history, an early diagnoses of clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) can be made, allowing patients to start treatments early and delay another attack. This is important because some studies suggest that damage caused by MS in the first year can be three times higher than subsequent years.

Physicians use MRIs to scan for damage to the myelin in the central nervous system (CNS. Myelin acts as an insulator and protective covering the nerve fibers. If the myelin is damaged, the nerve cell can no longer work properly.

Current Drug Therapies

Over the years, better and stronger drugs have become available through research. Currently, researchers are trying to find the best disease modifying drugs to reduce remissions, relapses, and overall disability.

Disease-modifying therapies are the best strategy to slow the course of MS. Multiple Sclerosis has four stages of progression, which define the varying needs of the patient and the course of treatment, such as a combination of medications and physical therapy. Treatments for acute attacks differ from treatments to modify the progression of the disease.

According to the National MS Society, 14 disease-modifying medications have been approved by the FDA for relapsing forms of MS. These medications are administered in various ways, such as injection, orally, and intravenous. Much of the research today focuses on lessening the side effects these therapies have on patients.

Patients with MS suffer reoccurring symptoms, such as fatigue, numbness, and muscle spasticity. Muscle spasms are painful, and can keep people up at night, because the muscles are so tight, as if they were locked in place, which also impairs walking, or moving.

Baclofen is a common medication available to specifically treat spasticity in MS patients. It is a muscle relaxing and antispastic agent, and has been around for several decades. The effects of baclofen generally last only three to four hours.  Meridien Research’s Tampa site and Principal Investigator, Cynthia Huffman, MD, have lead numerous clinical research trial for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.  One study tested the efficacy of an extended release Baclofen tablet, which could reduce the frequency for dosing and extend the effect of the drug.

A Need for Research

Research on MS is difficult because many of the 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 an MS research study complicated. Volunteers with MS are encouraged to pre-screen for multiple sclerosis research studies so that when a relapse occurs, they can participate in a trial right away.

If you would like more information about clinical research studies at Meridien Research, please call 888-777-8839.  You may also be interested in viewing a Case Study which features Meridien’s success with a study for a Phase III multiple sclerosis trial: