Advances in the treatment of multiple sclerosis provide hope to thousands of sufferers in the world. In Spain alone, it affects 47,000 people and, every year, 1,800 new cases of multiple sclerosis are diagnosed, according to the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN). Among these advances for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, the emergence of new drugs that have led to a change of approach to the disease stands out.
Developments in the treatment of multiple sclerosis provide new hope to sufferers
What is multiple sclerosis? Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system that affects the brain and spinal cord. It damages the myelin layer, the material that surrounds and protects nerve cells. This means that messages between the brain and the body slow down or become blocked, resulting in visual disturbances, muscle weakness, problems with coordination and balance, numbness, itching or pin prick sensations and problems with memory.
Knowing what multiple sclerosis is, and how it arises and making advances in its treatment are the main lines of action of medical research. And as was revealed at the 7th Joint Meeting of the European and American Committees for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis, specialists have developed two new ways of tackling the disease. The first is consolidation of oral treatments to address pin prick sensations. This helps prevent the discomfort caused by them.
New drugs that have been incorporated into the treatment of multiple sclerosis have led to a change in the approach to the disease. Which brings us to the second way: taking advantage of these much more powerful new drugs to remodel the immune system and achieve greater efficacy.
New drugs and consolidation of oral treatments are the main advances in the treatment of multiple sclerosis
This new approach to the treatment of multiple sclerosis consists of treating soon and strong. This means tackling the disease from the first moment, with all available weapons. Previously, medicines were scaled, starting with those that had been used for the longest time. These were usually injectable. The breakthrough came with the development of innovative, mainly oral, drugs, which offer better results. And the aim is to focus therapies on them.
Three medications currently stand out:
- Alemtuzumab. This attacks B lymphocyte receptors, destroys them and immunity is paralysed. They are subsequently replenished but with less aggressive lymphocytes with myelin and the appearance of new lesions is prevented. Its use also helps to paralyse the disease and some even improve after treatment.
- Ozanimod. This has shown efficacy and safety in reducing brain injuries and relapses. It is pending approval by the European regulatory agency.
- Cladribine. This is indicated for recurrent multiple sclerosis with high activity. It manages to keep patients free from evidence of the disease for at least four years. It positively modifies the immune system and rebuilds it. According to experts, it has very high efficacy and safety and durability.
The downside, however, is that these drugs can cause side effects due to their different mechanisms of action. Among them is progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), an infection that can be fatal or disabling for patients who suffer from it. Experts advocate shared decisions, where patients are explained the risk/benefit of treatment and, depending on their expectations and lifestyle, the best treatment for the multiple sclerosis is agreed upon.