In 1838, the English physician Robert Carswell sketched the effects of a mysterious illness which left many (multiple) hard (sclerotic) scars on the brain and the spinal chord. These changes gave the illness its name: multiple sclerosis (MS).
The cause for multiple sclerosis was unknown – and remains so to this day. Scientists discuss whether MS might be triggered, among other things, by infections (such as herpes viruses) contracted during childhood or early youth, environmental or genetic factors.
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
Being discernible by many different symptoms, MS is a chronic inflammatory, and usually intermittent disease of the central nervous system. Initial signs of multiple sclerosis can include sudden visual defects, paralysis of the arms and legs, impaired coordination and speech disorders, loss of concentration, tiredness, and dizziness.
Besides the visible, physical symptoms, there are also hidden MS symptoms like fatigue, cognitive impairment and socio-psychological problems that can impact the lives of MS patients and their families.
The progression of multiple sclerosis varies
MS develops when the harmoniously coordinated elements of the human immune system lose their finely balanced equilibrium. The course of the disease varies greatly from person to person. The symptoms often reappear in different forms.
Doctors distinguish among four different forms of multiple sclerosis, depending on the frequency of the attacks and the patient's momentary condition:
- Relapsing-remitting MS begins with this most common form in 80 percent of patients. The symptoms appear suddenly, usually last several days and then diminish to a greater or lesser extent.
- Secondary progressive: This form develops in about 50 percent of patients who have relapsing-remitting MS within the space of ten years. The disease progresses steadily with or without attacks or relapses.
- Primary progressive: This is the most serious form. It affects between 10 and 20 percent of all MS patients. From the outset, the symptoms do not develop in the form of attacks; rather the person's physical condition deteriorates continuously.
- Progressive Relapsing: This form is characterized by a steady progression of the disease from diagnosis and the presence of attacks with or without recovery. This is the less common form of MS.
Multiple sclerosis – Therapy improves the quality of life
In 1993, a therapeutic option which can prevent the progression of the disease was approved and was shown to have a long-term effect on the disease course.
Today, this therapy continues to be a relevant therapeutic option in patients with relapsing forms of MS and in patients who experience a first clinical event suggestive of MS (Clinically Isolated Syndrome – CIS).
In the focus of the multiple sclerosis research: extending our knowledge
While researchers look for new active ingredients, the developers at Bayer are improving treatment with the tried-and-tested active ingredient in a different way. In 2005, for example, a study was completed which caught the attention of physicians and patients alike. Starting treatment of multiple sclerosis earlier at the time of CIS, can reduce the risk of converting to clinically diagnosed MS by 50 percent.
Additional analyses from Bayer studies continue to provide relevant new information. These analyses have confirmed the importance of early treatment in long term progression of MS, employment and quality of life. Bayer will continue to partner with key academic institutions and researchers to generate information of relevance to the MS community including data on the usage of new injection devices.
360° support for MS patients
In the field of MS, Bayer has been a pioneer with a long-term commitment to patients. Besides being the first company to offer an efficacious, innovative treatment for MS, Bayer continuously invests in the new offerings to support patients with MS and their differing needs.
Bayer was the first company to offer nursing services to patients, providing education, training, and emotional support. In addition, Bayer has continued to develop autoinjectors to make the injection experience of Bayer’s MS drug more comfortable for patients. The latest autoinjector- BETACONNECT, is an easy to use, fully electronic autoinjector (approved in Europe). The visual and audible injection reminder is designed to help improve adherence.
In some countries, Bayer also offers CogniFit, a brain training program, which can help patients improve cognition. CogniFit allows patients to train their brains while having fun with online games.
Bayer is continuing to identify new and innovative ways to better serve patients and improve their daily lives with MS.
Advice for patients
Each body reacts differently to medicines. Therefore it is impossible to tell which medicine works best for you. Please consult your physician.