October 5, 2010
Multiple Sclerosis is tough to diagnose because flare-ups can occur years apart. However, patients may soon be offered treatment 'just in case' they have the disease.
Doctors didn't exactly know why Nancy Rifkind had trouble walking. The notion was she had multiple sclerosis. But until they were sure, they called it "possible" MS. Without a confirmed diagnosis, there are no standard treatment options.
"You don't want to use an aggressive therapy in someone who has maybe initial symptoms, but very little findings on their MRI and normal exam," Neurologist Dr. Lauren Krupp said.
Researchers at Stony Brook University Medical Center are testing a less potent drug therapy.
"Teriflunomide is one of several agents that fall into that category," Krupp said.
The study will compare the pill to a placebo to see if patients with "possible" MS benefit from early treatment.
"It's still in the recruitment phase, and each person, as they come into the study, gets followed for two years and we see what happens," Krupp said.
A previous study is encouraging. When Teriflunomide was added to Copaxone, an injectable MS treatment, disease activity in the brain was reduced.
"Whether or not the combination was better than Copaxone alone, or whether that improvement was really just being driven by the Teriflunomide, we don't know," Krupp said.
What they do know is if a treatment is available in a time of uncertainty, it may be easier for patients to cope.
To see if you qualify for the study visit www.clinicaltrials.gov and put the code: NCT00622700 in the search box.