Research efforts targeting progressive MS are expanding all the time, including clinical trials of medications aimed at reducing disease activity, and studies to learn more about the disease process in progressive forms of MS.
The earliest clinical trials of treatments for SPMS had disappointing results. Trials of weekly intramuscular (Avonex®) and three times weekly (Rebif®) interferon beta 1a were unable to demonstrate a positive effect on disease progression. One trial of interferon beta 1b (Betaseron®) conducted in Europe had positive results, but a second trial done in North America was unable to demonstrate a similar effect.
In spite of these negative trials, researchers and clinicians have determined that people with SPMS who continue to have relapses or other indications of inflammatory activity on MRI scans, may experience benefit from these medications. Clinical trials of other medications are underway in progressive forms of MS, including a large SPMS multicenter trial of Tysabri®, as well as a similar trial of Gilenya®.
In addition, there are numerous investigations underway to better understand the immunopathology of SPMS as well as to identify therapeutic targets. Read more about research in progressive MS.