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More MS news articles for August 2003

Study correlates spinal cord atrophy with disability

August 7, 2003
Boston Cure Project

Although events in the brain tend to receive much more attention, spinal cord damage and atrophy are also important components of MS. One group of researchers decided to improve our understanding of how spinal cord atrophy relates to disability by studying changes in spinal cord area as revealed by MRI over a period of four years in a cohort of MS subjects.

Their study followed 38 participants in the PRISMS and SPECTRIMS trials of interferon beta-1a (Rebif™). 13 participants were assigned to placebo initially but then were switched to Rebif after 24 or 36 months; 25 participants started out on Rebif and continued on treatment throughout the trial. Each participant had their EDSS (disability) assessed and MRIs taken at the 0, 6, 12, 18, and 48 month points. The researchers analyzed each MRI using new highly-sensitive, reproducible techniques to obtain the area of the upper spinal cord. They found that changes in spinal cord area correlated significantly with changes in EDSS. They also found that the interferon-beta regimen did not appear to slow down the progression of spinal cord atrophy, although the fact that the number of participants was small and all were on IFN-beta at some point may have prevented them from finding an effect. The authors propose that, since a reliable measurement technique is now available, further use should be made of spinal cord atrophy measurement in treatment trials and studies of disease progression.

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