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Monday, April 6, 2015

Seeking Answers for Progressive MS

An invitational meeting in Boston marks a step forward in a concerted international push to find effective therapies to target disease mechanisms, manage symptoms, and improve rehabilitation

A meeting in Boston early in March drew more than 80 scientists and clinical researchers to address the vexing question of how to speed treatments for progressive MS. The meeting showcased a cross section of potential disease mechanisms, new animal and computer models, and the scientific underpinnings of clinical trials by drugmakers.

In most countries, a dozen drugs are now available for relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), the most common form of MS. Yet, none of the disease-modifying therapies for RRMS has been proven to be effective in progressive MS, of which there are two types. In some people, MS begins as primary progressive disease (PPMS). And among people with RRMS, more than half eventually develop secondary progressive MS (SPMS).

“Developing treatments for progressive MS is probably the biggest challenge facing the MS world,” Alan Thompson, M.D., told 1800 people signed up for a postmeeting webcast. The one-hour archived presentation and transcript is available at the website of the U.S. National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  “People with progressive MS, primary and secondary, have been waiting for decades. I can’t emphasize how much things have changed, and how much progressive MS is at center stage,” said Thompson, a neurologist at University College London, who cautiously predicted that two or three new treatments may be available within the next 10 years.

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