Knowledge is Power. That's Why We Need to Better Understand the Course of MS.


As its name suggests, multiple sclerosis is a complex disease. The better we understand it, the higher the chances that we can cure or stop it. It was only because researchers have understood the logic of the relapses, that they have been able to develop therapies that can often prevent them from occurring altogether. However, multiple sclerosis can also develop permanent disabilities without relapses. This so-called "progression independent of relapses", or PIRA for short, is still largely misunderstood. To be able to treat it effectively, we need to understand it as well as possible.

To this end, a national consortium led by Prof. Cristina Granziera (SNF Professor, Translational Imaging in Neurology (ThINk Basel) at DBE, RC2NB and USB Neurology has conducted a study.  They evaluated standardized MRI scans (n=1904) from 516 MS sufferers participating in the Swiss MS Cohort Study (SMSC). The results show that PIRA is associated with a significant decrease in brain volume, particularly in the cerebral cortex, even when no new or enlarging inflammatory sites are visible in the scans. Thus, entirely new therapeutic approaches must be developed to treat this facet of MS.

The study, published on 16 May by Dr. Alessandro Cagol in the most prestigious JAMA Neurology journal, has given us a higher resolution picture of multiple sclerosis. And since knowledge is power, it will help us to develop new and better therapies for this complex and serious disease.