There’s currently no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), but treatment can help manage it. In recent years, new medications have become available to help slow the progression of the disease and relieve symptoms.
Researchers continue to develop new treatments and learn more about the causes and risk factors of this disease.
Read on to learn about some of the latest treatment breakthroughs and promising avenues of research.
Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are the main group of medications used to treat MS. To date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved more than a dozen DMTs for different types of MS.
Most recently, the FDA has approved:
- Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus). It treats relapsing forms of MS and primary progressive MS (PPMS). It’s the
first DMTto be approved to treat PPMS and the only one approved for all four types of MS.
- Fingolimod (Gilenya). It treats pediatric MS. It was already approved for adults. In 2018, it became the first DMT to be approved
- Cladribine (Mavenclad). It’s approved to treat relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and active secondary progressive MS (SPMS).
- Siponimod (Mayzent). It’s approved to treat RRMS, active SPMS, and clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). In a phase 3 clinical trial, siponimod effectively reduced the rate of relapse in people with active SPMS. Compared with a placebo, it cut the relapse rate in half.
- Diroximel fumarate (Vumerity). This drug is approved to treat RRMS, active SPMS, and CIS. It’s similar to dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera), an older DMT. However, it causes fewer gastrointestinal side effects.
- Ozanimod (Zeposia). This drug is approved to treat CIS, RRMS, and active SPMS. It’s the newest DMT to be added to the market and was FDA approved in March 2020.
- Ponesimod (Ponvory). The FDA approved this drug in March 2021. Ponvory has been shown to reduce annual relapses for relapsing types of MS by 30.5 percent when compared with teriflunomide (Aubagio).
While new treatments have been approved, another medication has been removed from pharmacy shelves.
In March 2018, daclizumab (Zinbryta) was withdrawn from markets around the world. This drug is no longer available to treat MS.
Several other medications are working their way through the research pipeline. In recent studies, some of these medications have shown promise for treating MS.
- The results of a phase 2 clinical trial suggest that ibudilast might help reduce the progression of disability in people with MS. To learn more about this medication, the manufacturer plans to conduct a phase 3 clinical trial.
- The findings of a small 2017 study suggest that clemastine fumarate might help restore the protective coating around nerves in people with relapsing forms of MS. This oral antihistamine is currently available over the counter, but not in the dose used in the clinical trial. More research is needed to study its potential benefits and risks for treating MS.
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) therapy is a promising new treatment for MS that’s currently being studied. It’s not currently approved, but interest is growing in the field, and it’s being evaluated in clinical trials.
These are only a few of the treatments currently being studied. To learn about current and future clinical trials for MS, visit ClinicalTrials.gov.
Thanks to the development of new medications for MS, people have a growing number of treatment options to choose from.
To help guide their decisions, scientists are using large databases and statistical analyses to try to pinpoint the best treatment options for different people.
Eventually, this research might help patients and doctors learn which treatments are most likely to work for them.
To understand the causes and risk factors of MS, geneticists and other scientists are combing the human genome for clues.
Eventually, findings like this might help scientists develop new strategies and tools to predict, prevent, and treat MS.
Scientists have also studied the role that bacteria and other microbes in our gut might play in the development and progression of MS. This community of bacteria is known as our gut microbiome.
Not all bacteria are harmful. In fact, many “friendly” bacteria live in our bodies and help regulate our immune system.
When the balance of bacteria in our bodies is off, it can lead to inflammation. This might contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases, including MS.
Research into the gut microbiome might help scientists understand why and how people develop MS. It could also pave the way for new treatment approaches, including dietary interventions and other therapies.
Scientists continue to gain new insight into the risk factors and causes of MS as well as potential treatment strategies.
New medications have been approved recently, and some have shown promise in clinical trials.
These advancements are helping improve the health and well-being of the many people who live with this condition while bolstering hopes for a potential cure.