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Reaction: drug may delay earliest symptoms of multiple sclerosis

A study of 89 patients has shown that the drug teriflunomide is able to delay the onset of multiple sclerosis symptoms in people whose MRI scans show early signs of the disease, even if they have not yet developed symptoms. The work has not yet been published in a scientific journal and its results have been shared at a meeting of the American Neurological Association.

20/04/2023 - 11:42 CEST
Expert reactions

Luis Querol - EM

Luis Querol

Neurologist specialising in autoimmune and neuromuscular neurological diseases at the Hospital Sant Pau in Barcelona.

Science Media Centre Spain

It is a study that, while it may get some media attention, offers results that are relatively logical. Today, multiple sclerosis is seen as a continuum from when the first lesions appear - even if they don't cause symptoms - until you actually have symptoms and have your first flare-ups. Teriflunomide is an effective drug that has already been shown to work in clinical trials in patients with conventional MS. The logical thing is that it would work [in patients not yet symptomatic] and it has. It's not revolutionary from that point of view, but more than expected.  

That's why it's good that the evidence is formalised so that we can use the treatments as soon as possible without having to wait for patients to develop symptoms. That is the big advantage, that it gives us the opportunity to use these drugs earlier, but from a scientific point of view it is the logical consequence of treating the same disease earlier. The results are even better, and there is a lot of evidence for that: the earlier you start a therapy, the better the results. 

It is not a revolutionary study because it is something we all expected, but at the same time it provides us with very useful information and, above all from a practical point of view, it gives us the opportunity to use these drugs that until now have been restricted to those patients who already meet all the criteria for multiple sclerosis.

The author has not responded to our request to declare conflicts of interest
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