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New Study: Early MRI Scans May Help to Predict Future MS Disease Course

July 26, 2019

A team of researchers from University College London reports that early MRI signs may signal the future disease course of multiple sclerosis. Researchers looked at the outcomes of 178 people who were initially diagnosed with a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). CIS refers to a first episode of neurologic symptoms and is caused by inflammation or loss of nerve-insulating myelin in the brain, spinal cord or optic nerve. Individuals who experience CIS may or may not go on to develop MS. Fifteen years later, the team looked back at MRI scans taken early on to see whether particular characteristics predicted the clinical outcomes.

They found that active inflammation (enhancing lesions) and spinal cord involvement in early MRI scans were linked to eventually developing secondary progressive MS and physical disability. Active inflammation also was associated with developing cognitive dysfunction.

The findings that early MRI scans contain clues to future disease activity and progression contribute substantially to growing evidence that will eventually enable clinicians to predict individuals’ expected severity of MS and help direct treatment decisions. This study, led by Dr. Wallace Brownlee, was funded by the United Kingdom MS Society and others.

Read more from the UK MS Society

Read the paper in Brain

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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