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Multiple sclerosis: a treatment to delay the first symptoms



A drug would be able to delay the evolution of symptoms linked to multiple sclerosis (MS). Let’s take stock of this approach when no treatment today can cure this autoimmune disease.

A disease affecting the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis affects 110,000 patients in France. In this pathology, the immune system reaches the myelin, this white sheath which insulates and protects the nerves and is therefore affected in its functioning.

Depending on the case, patients experience a drop in libido) and/or cognitive (attention, concentration, memory and slowing of the thinking process, depressive episodes).

To date, the treatments indicated do not allow patients to be cured. But thanks to their immunomodulatory/suppressive power, they slow down the progression of this pathology by spacing out flare-ups*, and limiting their intensity. Corticosteroids are also prescribed to soothe the acute symptoms occurring during an attack.

Indicate teriflunomide based on MRI findings

According to researchers from theAmerican Academy of Neurology, a treatment would be able to delay the appearance of the first symptoms of MS, if it is prescribed very early. It is teriflunomide. This last “may delay the onset of early symptoms in people whose magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans show signs of MS, even if they don’t yet have symptoms of the disease“. The mere appearance of lesions on MRI can reveal MS.

To prove this effectiveness, the French team of Pr Christine Lebrun Frenay** (University Hospital of Nice) followed 89 people with these lesions suggestive of MS. Half of the volunteers were given a daily dose of 14 mg of teriflunomide for a period of two years. The control group received no medication.

72% less risk of presenting the first symptoms

After eliminating certain factors that may have influenced these results, the scientists calculated “that people taking teriflunomide were 72% less likely to have early symptoms than those taking the placebo“.

This early prescription may be easy to access given that “more and more people are having brain scans for a variety of reasons, such as headaches or head trauma“.The Opportunity”to discover more of these cases, and many of these people then develop MS“, says Professor Lebrun Frenay. And “the earlier a person can be treated for MS, the greater the chance of delaying myelin deterioration, which lowers the risk of permanent neurological impairment and debilitating symptoms “.

And after ?

However, this approach is not yet routinely offered. Two points of vigilance remain outstanding:

  • The small number of patients included in the study and the lack of perspective on these data. Further work needs to be done to “confirm our results“, says Professor Lebrun Frenay;
  • The importance of raising caregivers’ awareness of the use of MRI, “to diagnose this disease, selecting only patients at risk of developing MS and not increasing misdiagnosis by MRI “, she concludes.

*in the so-called relapsing forms of the disease characterized by the progressive onset of attacks, unlike the progressive form immediately associated with a slow complication but without interruption of the symptoms

** member of the American Academy of Neurology

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