Drugs that suppress or modify the immune system are effective in relapsing-remitting MS. Despite successful results over the past few years for Fingolimod (a drug that modifies immune cells in people with relapsing remitting MS) a new trial has failed to show any effects in primary-progressive MS.

Here, researchers looked at a large number of people with primary-progressive MS (970) from 18 countries, where one group received a placebo and the rest received Fingolimod. They monitored the two groups for 3 to 5 years but failed to see any change in clinical or disability outcomes.

Although the results are negative, they provide important directions for future research in progressive MS. The most important of which is that drugs with protective effects for brain cells, rather than suppressive effects on immune system, are better candidates for trials in progressive MS in future. Moreover, this suggests that inflammatory processes in of the brain may be different in progressive MS compared to relapsing-remitting MS.

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