Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common autoimmune demyelinating disorder in Western countries and can lead to permanent disability. Over the past decades remarkable progress has been made in providing new therapeutic strategies to tackle the burden of the disease. Oral drugs and monoclonal antibodies are the main innovative approaches that have been tested in advanced stage clinical trials. Several new drugs have been shown to be superior to traditional disease modifying treatments (DMTs), in terms of both clinical and imaging outcome measures. Oral drugs have the advantage of offering a convenient route of administration. Recently fingolimod has received approval for the treatment of relapsing remitting (RR)-MS in several countries, becoming the first oral drug available to patients. Whilst the majority of the current studies focus on RR-MS, some trials investigate the primary or secondary progressive subtypes as well as the early forms of the disease aiming at delaying the conversion to clinically definite MS. Overall the future of the treatment options looks promising, although the occurrence of significant adverse events in some instances points to cautious evaluation of risks and benefits. Extension studies for most of the new drugs are under way and will provide evidence on the efficacy and long term effects of the new treatment strategies.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis, treatment, oral drugs, monoclonal antibodies, disease-modifying therapies, immunosuppression, lymphotoxicity, pro-inflammatory cytokines, neuroinflammation, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
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Published on: 01 March, 2012
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