Curr Opin Neurol. 2003 Jun;16(3):289-97
Department of Neurology, Mayo Medical School, Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.
PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW:
The present review of multiple sclerosis (MS) therapeutic trials published in 2002 is intended to assist the reader in understanding the most current advances in the care of their patients.
A substantial number of pivotal and preliminary reports continue to demonstrate encouraging new evidence that advances are being made in the care of patients with MS.
Several short-term studies in relapsing/remitting MS have demonstrated that it is possible to complete head-to-head comparison trials of active agents in MS (e.g. without a placebo control group).
The findings of these trials remain open to interpretation and have generated considerable controversy, as expected.
A phase 3 trial [the International MS Secondary Progressive Avonex Controlled Trial (IMPACT)] became the fourth study of the beta interferons (interferon-beta-1a, in this case) to demonstrate a partial effect on disease activity in secondary progressive MS.
Two trials demonstrated apparent partial efficacy for the anthrecenedione mitoxantrone in active and progressive MS.
Disappointing results were announced for a number of large pivotal trials, although those results have not yet been published (e.g. oral glatiramer acetate in relapsing/remitting MS, glatiramer acetate in primary progressive MS, and intravenous immunoglobulin in secondary progressive MS).
The MS research community needs to determine how best to address two key unanswered questions.
Is late clinical deterioration often or invariably tied to the initial inflammatory/demyelinating phase of the disease?
What is the optimal research design to address whether current and future experimental strategies affect the later phases of MS (e.g. does early treatment delay or prevent clinical disability)?