People with multiple sclerosis begin to show symptoms much earlier than previously thought
People with multiple sclerosis can show signs of something wrong five years before the onset of disease, much earlier than previously thought, according to a new analysis of health records from people with the condition.
The new research, published today in Lancet Neurology, is a first step to identifying red flags to help doctors screen for the disease and start interventions earlier. This could point researchers in a new direction for finding the root cause of the disease.
“Proving that people with multiple sclerosis have already changed their behavior in the five years before even the earliest medical recognition of the condition is very important because it means we have to look beyond those five years to understand how it is caused,” said Helen Tremlett, senior author of the study and a professor in the department of medicine at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.
Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the protective coating, known as myelin, around brain cells. Once a person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a physician will try to pinpoint the onset of the disease, sometimes known as the patient’s first demyelinating event, and can include problems with vision or motor control.