How MS Treatment Works Inside Your Body

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[MUSIC PLAYING] MITZI JOI WILLIAMS: Disease-modifying therapies are ones that try to actually affect the underlying immune process. So with an autoimmune disease your immune system is overactive. It's doing too much. It's doing the things that it's supposed to do, but it's doing something extra that it shouldn't be doing. And so disease modification means we're really trying to affect that underlying process to keep more damage from happening.

So for some of the medications we actually modulate or modify the immune system, meaning we try to change the type of cells so that there are more anti-inflammatory or anti-attack cells and less of the inflammatory or cells that can cause damage. There are other medicines that may do things like hide some of the immune cells. Because when we talk about MS, we're talking about the immune system being overactive. So we're trying to decrease that activity in a variety of ways.

So some of the medications may hide the immune cells so that there are less of them available to attack the brain and the spine and cause those lesions. And some of our other medications actually may kill or eliminate certain types of cells. So there's a wide spectrum, and we have almost 20 disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis. So we've come a very long way.

One of the most important things I think that patients and their family members and care partners need to recognize about MS treatment is to stick with whatever plan you and your healthcare team decide on. Once we lose function, we cannot regain it. So sticking to your treatment regimen will let us know if it's working or if it's not working.