It is a disease that strikes between one in 500 and one in 1,000 Canadians, the majority of them young women.
Its incidence rate is on the rise. Just 15 years ago multiple sclerosis, an auto-immune disease where the body's own defence mechanisms turn against it, meant a lifetime of almost unrelieved suffering.
Today, however, medical science has created six different therapies to alleviate the suffering and slow the progress of the disease.
Even better news is that a handful of others are in the pipeline.
While five of today's approved medications involve self-injection, often as frequently as once a day, and the sixth requires monthly visits to a clinic for infusion, many of the new drugs will be in pill form.
The first has now been approved for use in the United States, but has not yet been approved by Health Canada.
Indeed, the advances in diagnosis and treatment of MS have been dramatic in recent years, says Dr. Paul O'Connor, director of the MS clinic at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
A major step forward was the use of MRI technology to see in real time the effects of MS on the brain and to track the effectiveness of treatment, he says.
"The approach we now take is to hit the disease fast and hard," O'Connor says.
"The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcomes."
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