People with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) have a better prognosis and a slower progression to disability since the introduction of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) some 20 years ago, according to a retrospective study.
The study, “Outcomes in a Modern Cohort of Treated Multiple Sclerosis Patients Followed from Diagnosis Up to 15 Years,” was published in the International Journal of MS Care.
“Before disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) were available, the natural history of MS with regard to attainment of accepted disability milestones was reported with a fairly wide variance comparing outcomes across studies,” its researchers wrote.
But all “share an overall precarious picture of the prognosis for newly diagnosed patients,” they added, noting “[m]ore recent data sets drawn from patients in the ‘treatment era’ may provide a different conclusion.”
A team led by researchers with the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Neuroscience Institute, at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) in Pittsburgh, assessed the influence of DMTs on clinical outcomes, namely disability milestones, by conducting one of the longest running and most detailed studies of its type. It followed people diagnosed with MS for up to 15 years after symptom onset.
“In the field of MS research, the most widely cited natural history studies involve the pretreatment era of a patient’s journey,” Thomas Scott, MD, a neurologist at AHN and the study’s senior author, said in a press release. “The publication of our work is an exciting advancement in the world of MS care, as it provides insight into better outcomes over the past few decades.”
Researchers reviewed all the available disability data collected routinely on 184 newly diagnosed relapsing MS patients seen at their clinic from 1989 through 2006. Patients’ mean age at symptom onset was 35.4.
Most (76%) were examined at least once a year after an initial diagnosis, and followed for an average of 13 years. Outcomes were evaluated based on the expanded disability status scale (EDSS), which ranged from 0 (no disability) through 6, which is defined as ‘the use of a walking aid such as a cane or crutch to walk roughly 100 meters.’
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