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Treating MS

MS Treatment Options

While there is currently no cure for MS, there are various MS treatment options which have shown a decrease in the severity and frequency of relapses and a delay in disease progression in numerous studies. Some treatments use an injection -- either subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (into the muscle) -- while others are given intravenously (via an infusion), or orally.

The following section provides an overview of MS therapies as approved in countries of the European Union. For illustrative purposes and to help understand the broad concepts, one may divide MS therapies into 2 general classes: ‘therapies with predominantly immunomodulating properties’ and ‘therapies with predominantly immunosuppressive properties’:

Therapies with predominantly immunomodulating properties

Therapies with immunomodulating properties lead to a reduction of malfunctioning immune cells by binding and inhibiting their activation. Additionally the natural barrier between the blood circulation and the brain, the so-called ‘blood brain barrier,’ is believed to become less permeable, e.g., as a result of the immunomodulating beta-interferons, the barrier lets fewer immune cells pass into the brain where they could cause harm by attacking the healthy nerve tissue.

Agents with primarily immunomodulatory properties

Beta-interferons and glatiramer acetate can be prescribed within the indication areas described above for MS patients who are at least 12 years of age.

Please consult for each of the mentioned products, the product information texts for specific product information (including safety information) that applies to your country.

Therapies with primarily immunosuppressive properties

Although there is no universally accepted definition, these agents are generally associated with a decrease in the number of circulating immune cells. Immune cells - cells that play crucial roles in our natural defence system to fight viruses, bacteria etc - can malfunction in MS and start attacking the body’s own healthy nerve-cells.

The immunosuppressant properties of these therapies lead to a reduction of the malfunctioning immune cells in the blood circulation that potentially could cause harm to nerve cells. As a potential downside, the number of well-functioning immune cells can be reduced as well. These cells are important to protect the body from the potentially harmful influences of bacteria, viruses etc. The immuno-surveillance function of the immune cells might be decreased as well which could lead to a sub-optimal detecting of potentially foreign and malignant cells. This could potentially result in more viral infections or cancers as seen in studies involving therapies with immunosuppressant properties.

These therapies can be prescribed to adult MS patients within the indication areas described above.

Please consult for each of the mentioned products, the product information texts for specific product information (including safety information) that applies to your country.

Diagram

Different treatment options

There are differences in the efficacy, safety, tolerability of therapies and the way the different therapy options can be taken or administered. Some therapies are indicated to start MS treatment from an early stage of the disease; other therapies are primarily indicated for patients who do not respond well to the first-line treatments and/or are indicated for patients with rapidly progressing MS.

MS is a chronic disease which requires a treatment for a long period of time. It is essential to carefully consider the factors that are important to each individual patient which has to be addressed with the physician.