It is a question that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, loved ones, and the larger community have asked for some time: “Will there be a cure for multiple sclerosis?”
MS News Today had the opportunity to ask that question of leaders at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) kick-off press conference of the fourth annual forum on Feb. 28 in Dallas, Texas.
Forum committee co-chairs Tanuja Chitnis, MD, and Alexandre Prat, MD, PhD, were present, as was Jack Antel, MD, the outgoing ACTRIMS president.
“There’s are a number of different ways that one can define a cure,” Chitnis noted. “It could be through controlling disease activity, it could be through preventing disease, or could be through actually repairing disease. Those are all missions of the National MS Society.“
According to her, the research/medical field for MS is close to being able to control disease and prevent disease activity, “especially if treatments are used very cognizant and carefully.”
Regarding prevention of the disease, Chitnis noted that several risk factors have been identified so far, and that many of them were found “in early and pediatric-onset MS work, in which we see the disease at its earliest onset.”
“I think for the next generation, we are hopefully going to be able to advise patients and young people about those risk factors,” she said. “I would love to see pediatric clinic measurements of vitamin D levels and other factors that we think are associated with risk.”
Pediatric studies are quite relevant, and they have shown that early treatment, particularly focused on treating inflammation in early disease stages, “is important and seems to lead to better long-term outcomes,” Chitnis said, suggesting that early treatment is key in the search for a potential cure for MS.
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