Press Release


Early Treatment Delays Multiple Sclerosis Progression


San Diego – Early treatment significantly delays the initial progression of multiple sclerosis, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 58th Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif., April 1 – 8, 2006. Evidence suggests that immunomodulatory drugs (drugs that control the immune system) initiated early in the disease course of multiple sclerosis delays the disease’s progression. Researchers from Canada, Europe, and Israel collaborated on the study, which demonstrated a 50-percent reduction in the risk for clinically definite MS among patients taking the drug interferon beta-1b. In this study, patients with a first clinical event suggestive of MS were randomized to treatment with interferon beta-1b or placebo control groups. Interferons are small soluble proteins or glycoproteins that alter immune responses. The drug was injected at .25 mg every other day to 292 patients who were identified as having their first demyelinating event (loss of myelin, the insulation that surrounds the nerve fiber and aids the transmission of nerve impulses) and with MS-associated brain lesions identified through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Both treatment and control groups (176 patients in placebo group) were treated until clinically definite MS was diagnosed or they had been followed for two years. Of those taking the drug, 28 percent were diagnosed with MS after two years, compared to 45 percent of those taking the placebo. “This shows that there is a remarkable benefit for treatment even after only one episode of MS-like symptoms” said Mark S. Freedman, MD, FAAN, of the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Canada. The study was supported by funding from Schering AG, Germany, the maker of interferon beta-1b.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 32,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

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Editor's Notes:Dr. Freedman will present this research during a scientific platform session at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4 in room 6AB of the San Diego Convention Center. He will be available for media questions during a briefing at 3:00 p.m., Monday, April 3 in the on-site Press Interview Room, room 16 B. All listed times are for Pacific Time (PT). AAN Press Room in the San Diego Convention Center April 1 - April 7, 2006 contact (619) 525-6207

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