People who experience a first attack (clinical demyelinating event) similar to those seen in people with MS, are diagnosed with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). Clinical trials have shown that between 38% and 45% of untreated people with CIS convert to clinically definite MS within 2 years. Early treatment following a first attack may delay further disease activity in people with MS.

In this multi-centre clinical trial study, investigators looked at an extension study of a previously reported trial (REFLEX or REbif FLEXible dosing in early MS) looking at early versus delayed treatment with interferon.

Participants were divided into three groups: (1) delayed treatment (those who were switched during trial extension from placebo to treatment), (2) interferon therapy three-times per week, and (3) interferon therapy once a week.

A total of 402 people (out of the 517 from original trial) took part. Investigators calculated the risk of conversion to MS as defined by two different criteria: (1) clinically definite MS, (2) definite MS according to MRI.

They found that, after 5 years, those who received early treatment had reduced MRI activity and were less likely to convert to MS using both the clinical and MRI criteria. These findings further highlight the importance of early treatment of MS in individuals who experience a first attack that resembles MS.

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