Early treatment

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Class I clinical trials demonstrated that immunomodulatory treatments (interferon-β and glatiramer acetate) reduce the disease activity and the accumulation of disability in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). Moreover, interferon-β-1b had similar positive effects also in secondary progressive MS. The magnitude of these clinical effects was modest, but the reduction of inflammatory activity, as revealed by magnetic resonance imaging, was marked. There is converging evidence from new pathological studies and from new magnetic resonance techniques, characterised by an increased pathological specificity, that already in the early phases of the disease the inflammatory activity determines irreversible axonal damage. Moreover, the amount of inflammatory activity at clinical presentation of the disease has some value for predicting long-term disability. Taken together, these data indicate that patients may benefit from early treatment; the positive results of three double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials (Early Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and Controlled High Risk Subjects Avonex Multiple Sclerosis Prevention Study and BENEFIT) support this conclusion.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Clinical trials
  • Immunomodulatory treatments
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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