A friend recently forwarded me an article from the Inside Stanford Medicine newsletter. It seems that a small, recent study showed that there may be two different schemas for MS.
So MSers’ responsiveness to the available therapies, and interferons in particular, might depend on which pattern of MS we have.
This totally fits with my experience: my disease has never seemed to be halted by the meds, or even overpowered temporarily by steroids. Even chemotherapy didn’t seem to have any effect.
And when my neurologist told me that in his opinion I had transitioned to secondary-progressive, I thought “Well, duh?! I’ve been thinking that for several years now!”
In fact, this study may be suggesting that I’ve been progressing since day one, that although my diagnosis was Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), it may actually have been some progressive form all along.
In truth, once getting this diagnosis 20 years ago, I suspected that doctors often gave the diagnosis as RRMS then they could prescribe one of the first-line drugs for MS that are only approved for this type.
MS medication is so expensive and has required self-administered, regular shots, sometimes as often as every day.
This study seems to confirm for me that giving myself the regular, sometimes painful, shots did nothing to slow the progression of my disease.
And that’s the mystery for all of us: there is yet no way to measure the effects of any of our medicines. I have no way to measure this, so I only have my gut feeling.
My doctor agreed that the latest medication I was administering faithfully had obviously not impeded my progression, so we agreed that I should stop.
The silver lining is “Yay, no more shots!”
On the other hand, “Whoa, no more shots. Of any kind.”
He explained to me that prevailing theory at the moment is that MSers who transition from RR to SP eventually reach a plateau and that we can hope that I’ve already reached it.
He did arrange for me to try a new oral drug for MS, A——-, which helps some of the affected walk more confidently. I’ve been taking it for two months now but have experienced no change.
If the results are replicated by other labs and larger studies, MSers may someday be able to take a blood test at diagnosis to see which type they have.
It’s another small piece of the puzzle.
- Goldman, Bruce (2010). Two kinds of multiple sclerosis, two different responses to beta-interferon, study shows. Inside Stanford Medicine, Mar. 28, 2010.
- Also, see the study results published in Nature Medicine: http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v16/n4/full/nm.2110.html