Nancy Davis Foundation: Multiple Sclerosis FAQ
Is there a cure for Multiple Sclerosis?
Although no cure exists at present for MS, many symptoms can be relieved and
the severity of attacks may be reduced through drugs such as Avonex, Betaseron,
Copaxone, Extavia, Novantrone, Rebif and Tysabri. Several of these drugs
are interferons (immune system proteins). Interferons and Copaxone are
first-line therapies that modify the immune response and reduce by about 30%
the frequency of relapses or attacks.
Progressive MS symptoms are often less responsive to current MS therapies,
although there may be a limited role for approved drugs in patients with
progressive MS who continue to have exacerbations. The MRI has redefined the
natural history of MS and has proven an invaluable aid in diagnosing and
monitoring the disease. Scientists are now able to visualize and follow the
development of MS lesions in the brain and spinal cord using MRI. This ability
is a tremendous aid in assessing a person’s response to therapy and can speed
the process of evaluating new treatments. Because of these advances,
investigators are optimistic that safer and more effective treatments are on
the way to unlock the mysteries of MS.
Statistics About MS
- Most people experience their first symptoms of multiple sclerosis between
the ages of 20 and 40, but a diagnosis is often delayed.
- Symptoms rarely begin before age 15 or after age 60. However, scientists
have documented cases of MS in children as young as two and elderly
- Caucasian individuals are more than twice as likely as other races to
- In general, women are affected almost twice as much as men; however, among
patients who develop the symptoms of MS at a later age, the gender ratio is
more balanced. Also, the diagnosis in children before puberty is a 1/1 ratio
while after puberty it is 2/1 ratio with more women being diagnosed than
- There are currently about 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States
who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
- There are 2 million people worldwide living with MS.
- This estimate suggests that approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed each
- MS is five times more prevalent in temperate climates -- such as those
found in the northern United States, Canada, and Europe -- than in tropical
- Furthermore, the age of 15 seems to be significant in terms of risk for
developing the disease. Some studies indicate that a person moving from a
high-risk (temperate) to a low-risk (tropical) area before the age of 15 tends
to adopt the risk (in this case, low) of the new area and vice versa. Other
studies suggest that people moving after age 15 maintain the risk of the area
where they grew up.