Q&A: What are the current treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS)?

  • Immune modulating agents:

    • Avonex_01IFN-b 1a (Avonex, Re-bif); IFNb 1b (Betaferon)
      • Functions: IFN-b reduces antigen presentation and thereby alters the proliferation of T cells. T cells, when activated and have the right capacity, can destroy myelin proteins that are essential for proper signal transduction. It also reduces the expression of metalloproteinase that is required for T cells to cross the blood brain barrier, thus reducing the number of T cells in the brain and indirectly alleviating the demyelination process.
      • Betaferon: first drug to treat relapsing-remitting MS. It reduces relapse rate by 30%.


    • Copaxone2Glatiramer acetate (Copazone)
      • Functions: GA is a mixture of synthetic peptides to mimic a major component of the myelin protein. The mechanism of GA is unclear: it has been shown to differentiate naive T cells into Th2, increase regulatory T cells (that can inhibit proinflammatory T cells), modulate CD8 cytotoxic T cells, modulate B cells.
      • Copazone: demonstrated reduction of relapse rate of 30%


    • Laquinimod
      • Functions: modulate cytokine secretion from peripheral blood lymphocytes; weaken pro-inflammation, impair cell traffick into the CNS
      • Laquinimod: can be administered orally. 0.6mg per day is shown to decrease the number of lesions by 40%. Currently Phase III trial is finished: company said the clinical trial has failed, but it is shown to reduce relapse rate and progression.

Related Article: Systematically immunosupressive treatments for MS

Reference:Current Treatment Strategies for Multiple Sclerosis – Efficacy Versus Neurological
Adverse Effects. Martin S. Weber, Til Menge, Klaus Lehmann-Horn, Helena C. Kronsbein, Uwe Zettl, Johann Sellner,
Bernhard Hemmer1 and Olaf Stüve