Multiple sclerosis (MS) doesn’t currently have a cure, but certain treatments may keep it in remission. When diagnosed with MS, you want to receive the latest, most advanced treatments. One method of potentially accessing the latest treatments is to participate in clinical trials.
What Is a Clinical Trial?
Clinical trials are run by doctors or researchers who study new medications, a new combination of medications, a new treatment, or a new test. Clinical trials test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments. These studies are designed with safety in mind, and undergo stringent review.
Examples of recent clinical trials focused on MS include:
- natalizumab in progressive MS
- use of interferon beta to delay disease progression
- safety and effects of low and high doses of vitamin D3 in MS
- supported treadmill training in progressive MS
Why Participate in a Clinical Trial?
Ultimately, the goal of a clinical trial is to advance medical understanding. More effective treatments — and perhaps one day a cure — can be developed as MS clinical trials uncover more information.
Some participants in a clinical trial will receive the latest treatments, but some may not. Most clinical trials include giving some participants a placebo or simply the standard current treatment. For example, in a recent study of Rebif, patients were grouped into three “arms” of the study. One arm received three doses of the drug per week. One arm received one dose and two placebo doses. One arm received three placebo shots. It’s important for researchers to be able to compare the tested treatment with standard treatment.
Another advantage of trial participation is that medical staff will watch you very carefully. There may be some inconvenience involved with frequent visits to a clinic, but your health may benefit from close monitoring.
How Can I Participate?
Participation in any clinical trial is voluntary. Some trials are very specific and will only include certain types of patients. For MS clinical trials, researchers may not be able to include you if you have other health conditions or are taking certain medications.
Researchers may also be looking for patients with a certain type of MS, like relapsing-remitting, primary-progressive, or secondary-progressive. Some studies may be looking for newly diagnosed patients, and others for those who have had MS for decades. Some studies may recruit patients with particular MS symptoms, like bladder control problems or visual symptoms.
Search for an MS clinical trial near you. Learn about all of the possible risks and benefits of participating, and check with your doctor before signing up to be sure it’s a good fit for you.