Background: Recent data indicate that in multiple sclerosis disease onset before the age of 16 is more common than previously assumed. However, current therapeutic options are limited to the treatment of acute attacks in these patients. Glatiramer acetate has been successfully applied in adults with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, but there are no data available about the use of glatiramer acetate in childhood and juvenile onset multiple sclerosis.
Methods: Seven patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and disease onset between 9 and 16 years of age were treated with daily subcutaneous injection of 20 mg glatiramer acetate (Copaxone). Patients were followed for 24 months. Treatment was initiated in all patients before the age of 18.
Results: The use of glatiramer acetate in our cohort of early onset multiple sclerosis patients was safe and well tolerated. Two out of seven patients remained relapse-free during the two year period. Clinical disability as measured by the EDSS remained stable in three out of seven patients.
Conclusion: Due to the small number of patients the efficacy of the treatment has to be interpreted with caution. However, there might be a more pronounced treatment benefit in patients with low disability at treatment initiation and early treatment onset.