Multiple sclerosis patients sometimes experience “natural” improvements in disability at least over the short term, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.
The study, published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, is the first to quantify improvements in disability in patients who are not taking immunomodulatory drugs such as beta interferon drugs or glatiramer acetate. Researchers observed that while disease progression and increasing disability were common in MS patients, up to 30% of patients did experience some improvement, often sustained over one to two years.
While there were some patient characteristics more associated with a greater chance of improvement—including being female, younger, and having the relapse-remitting form of the disease—a wide spectrum of patients experienced episodes of improvement.
Further research is needed to understand the biological mechanisms underlying these improvements in order to pinpoint possible drug targets, and to determine the potential capacity for drug intervention to enhance and prolong this natural, innate improvement for the benefit of patients.
The study, entitled “Natural, innate improvements in multiple sclerosis disability,” can be viewed at http://msj.sagepub.com/content/18/10/1412.abstract.
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