Over 5,000 people in Israel suffer from multiple sclerosis – an incurable disease that affects the brain and central nervous system. The deceptive and different course of the disease between patients are just some of the reasons why the treatments available today are not enough for a significant amount of patients. Clinical studies in multiple sclerosis continue to look for a cure and symptoms’ improvement. These studies are free of charge in Israel.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease – a disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s cells. Like many other autoimmune diseases, it is not known how multiple sclerosis develops, why it actually affects certain people, and most importantly – how it can be cured.
Little is known about the disease, which is the leading cause of young age disability. It is most often diagnosed at a young age – between 20 and 50 years old – and its course includes damage to the immune system in the central nervous system, which includes the brain and the spine.
The injuries usually occur in the offensive form of the disease: weeks of various neurological symptoms that pass thereafter, sometimes almost completely. Some patients experience neurological damage that remains and accumulates after each attack; Others experience sudden seizures with low frequency and continue throughout for years.
MS has the character of gradual deterioration, which sometimes appears even years after the initial diagnosis. The gradual injury can lead to a slow loss of various neurological functions.
While some patients are able to live an almost completely normal lifestyle, for others the course of the disease may be turbulent and lead to a gradual retreat from daily functioning.
Dealing with multiple sclerosis is challenging not only for the patient but also for the family and its close circle.
For most patients, the course of the disease includes relapses and remisison (relapse-remitting).
Years and months can last without any symptoms.
Half of these patients eventually reach a stage of “secondary progressive” deterioration.
A small increase in body temperature may temporarily worsen the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Currently, there is no treatment that can cure Multiple Sclerosis.
Like many other autoimmune diseases, it is not known how multiple sclerosis develops, why it actually affects certain people, and most importantly – how it can be cured.
The initial symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis vary from patient to patient and at first they may be so mild or nonspecific that they are not associated with the disease at all.
Common initial symptoms of the disease can include fatigue, a feeling of numbness or tingling in one of the body areas, blurred vision or other visual, balance, and coordination disturbance. The initial manifestation depends on the area affected in the central nervous system and for which neurological functions it is responsible of.
On suspicion of MS, an MRI of the brain and the spine should be performed. MS imaging is very typical of the disease and demonstrates autoimmune inflammation in the area involved. MS is characterized by affecting different areas over time and is therefore commonly diagnosed after two seizures involving different areas of the nervous system.
Similar to the various symptoms, the course of the disease also varies greatly from patient to patient. Some patients experience isolated seizures that are easy to manage. Others experience gradual deterioration or frequent seizures that require follow-up, treatment and sometimes even more frequent hospitalizations.
Pros and Cons
The complex nature of Multiple Sclerosis necessitates the existence of different treatment lines. For example, some treatments are designed for acute seizures, while others focus on long-term outcomes, to reduce the frequency of seizures in the future. Innovative therapies try to delay the deterioration of the disease in patients who experience a gradual rather than an offensive course.
Patients with an offensive course of the disease may also benefit from treatments that have been defined as “secondary” treatments between the attacks. Today, there are a variety of treatments for the offensive disease that are given by oral pills, by subcutaneous injections or by intravenous infusion.
Each group of drugs has its own pros and cons. For example, drugs given by infusion are considered to be more effective, but also have a higher risk of many side effects, and are therefore usually given to patients suffering from active or multiple seizures. In many cases these are new biological drugs that work to specifically suppress the inflammatory process involved in Multiple Sclerosis.
The drugs given in injections are usually the oldest marketed drugs, and are therefore considered relatively safe. However, they are less effective compared to the new biological drugs.
For a gradual course of illness there are a number of treatments, but their effectiveness is controversial and many of them involve many side effects and even toxicity to the organs of the body during prolonged use. These treatments try to suppress the immune system and thus reduce the inflammatory process that causes the disease, but the immune damage also exposes patients to various complications, including an increased risk of infections.
In fact, for a disease that started with a course of primary progressive (PPMS), there is only one drug that has been found to be effective in studies and approved by the FDA – Ocrelizumab, which entered the market in 2017. The other drugs have not been shown to be effective in studies for PPMS.
The solution has not yet been found, but clinical studies continue to constantly examine treatments that will delay, improve and even in the future cure the disease.
After exhausting all the treatment lines – what is the next step?
The course of the disease varies from patient to patient and sometimes also changes in the same patient – from an offensive course to a gradual deterioration. The tools at our disposal today limit the ability to predict in advance which patient will respond to which drug, and how the transition from the offensive to the gradual form can be prevented.
The solution has not yet been found, but clinical studies continue to constantly examine treatments that will delay, improve and even in the future cure the disease. Various studies are looking for patients at different stages of the disease to test innovative drugs that may change the course of the disease and improve the quality of life of thousands of additional patients.
To check if there is a clinical study for MS patients that may be suitable for you, you can click here.
Clinical studies in Israel for Multiple Sclerosis.
In Israel, studies are being conducted based on treatments that have already proven efficacy and safety in earlier phases. They are held at a number of medical centers in the country, under close medical supervision, and free of charge. The purpose of clinical trials for Multiple Sclerosis varies from study to study but includes slowing or preventing functional impairments, improving quality of life, and even repairing nerve damage.
To check if there is a clinical study for MS patients that may be right for you, you can click on the “Match Me A Trial” button.
You will then be asked to answer a short medical questionnaire to better understand your condition. If we find an active clinical study that suits your needs, our team will explain to you more about it, along with its inherent advantages and disadvantages. Until then, you can read more about clinical trials and how they are conducted on our site.