New results have highlighted the advantages of starting treatment early – even before a diagnosis of MS is confirmed.
Testing the BENEFITs
The original BENEFIT study involved 468 people with early signs of MS, called clinically isolated syndrome or CIS. Eighty-five percent of people with CIS would be expected to to develop MS at some point.
The aim of the trial was to see if people with CIS would benefit from early treatment. To do this, people taking part either took interferon beta-1b immediately after their symptoms began, or a placebo (dummy) drug.
The 278 people involved in the BENEFIT study were monitored for 11 years. Anyone taking the placebo automatically switched to the active treatment after two years, or earlier if they were diagnosed with MS.
Adding to early treatment evidence
The study found that people taking interferon beta-1b early were 33% less likely to be diagnosed with MS than those taking it two years after initial symptoms.
Early treatment also delayed the first relapse and reduced the number of relapses among participants. However, everyone taking treatment within two years of a CIS diagnosis experienced roughly the same worsening of disability and MRI activity over the course of the study.
Ludwig Kappos, the lead researcher working at the University Hospital in Basel said:
"Our study adds to the evidence supporting treatment at the earliest sign of the disease and indicates that early treatment has a long-lasting effect on disease activity."
>> We’re calling for specialists to discuss treatment options, including DMTs, with people as close to diagnosis as possible.