Predicting how an individual’s MS will develop remains a challenge for both patients and physicians.
Before the introduction of approved disease modifying drugs (DMDs), studies showed the median time to reach a high disability status scale was about 20 years in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients, and about 10 years in primary progressive MS (PPMS) patients.
Since the mid-1990s, major changes have occurred in the diagnosis and treatment of MS. DMDs such as interferon-b and glatiramer acetate have been approved and are now commonly used by neurologists in clinical practice. This may influence the history and prognosis of the disease.
Researchers from the Department of Neurology of the University Hospital Rennes in France aimed to provide a 10-year history of MS from clinical onset occurring at time of first approved DMDs in a population-based cohort.
They analysed 313 patients whose first clinical event suggesting MS had occurred in Brittany between 2000 and 2001. The researchers collected patients’ history of relapses, treatments and disability up to 10 years after onset.
In conclusion, they found a lower risk of disability progression at the 10-year follow-up in the RRMS group compared with historical cohorts. Unfortunately, this better prognosis was not observed in the PPMS group.
This finding affects the prognosis given to patients in clinical practice, and also suggests that disease-modifying drugs may improve disability progression in patients with relapsing- remitting MS.