The first sign of developing multiple sclerosis is a clinically isolated syndrome that resembles a multiple sclerosis relapse.
Objective/methods: The objective was to review the clinical trials of two medicines in clinically isolated syndromes (interferon beta and glatiramer acetate) to determine whether they prevent progression to definite multiple sclerosis. In the BENEFIT trial, after 2 years, 45% of subjects in the placebo group developed clinically definite multiple sclerosis; the rate was lower in the interferon beta-1b group. All subjects were then offered interferon beta-1b, and the original interferon beta-1b group became the early-treatment group and the placebo group became the delayed-treatment group. After 5 years, the number of subjects with clinical definite multiple sclerosis remained lower in the early-treatment than in the late-treatment group. In the PreCISe trial, after 2 years, the time for 25% of the subjects to convert to definite multiple sclerosis was prolonged in the glatiramer group. Interferon beta-1b and glatiramer acetate slow the progression of clinically isolated syndromes to definite multiple sclerosis. However, it is not known whether this early treatment slows the progression to the physical disabilities experienced in multiple sclerosis.