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Recent developments in multiple sclerosis therapeutics

Rebecca I Spain*, Michelle H Cameron and Dennis Bourdette

Author Affiliations

Oregon Health & Science University, Department of Neurology, CR120, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239, USA

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BMC Medicine 2009, 7:74  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-7-74

Published: 7 December 2009

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis, the most common neurologic disorder of young adults, is traditionally considered to be an inflammatory, autoimmune, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. Based on this understanding, the initial therapeutic strategies were directed at immune modulation and inflammation control. These approaches, including high-dose corticosteroids for acute relapses and long-term use of parenteral interferon-β, glatiramer acetate or natalizumab for disease modification, are at best moderately effective. Growing evidence supports that, while an inflammatory pathology characterizes the early relapsing stage of multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative pathology dominates the later progressive stage of the disease. Multiple sclerosis disease-modifying therapies currently in development attempt to specifically target the underlying pathology at each stage of the disease, while avoiding frequent self-injection. These include a variety of oral medications and monoclonal antibodies to reduce inflammation in relapsing multiple sclerosis and agents intended to promote neuroprotection and neurorepair in progressive multiple sclerosis. Although newer therapies for relapsing MS have the potential to be more effective and easier to administer than current therapies, they also carry greater risks. Effective treatments for progressive multiple sclerosis are still being sought.