Stop MS in Its Tracks

Stopping multiple sclerosis means achieving a state of no new disease activity or central nervous system injury, no worsening of daily living or quality of life, and no new manifestations of the disease. By doing this, we prevent disability, create an environment for myelin and axon repair and cultivate pathways that promote the restoration of function. The STOP pathway includes two major objectives: detecting MS early and precision medicine.

What We Know

We’ve learned a lot about the role of the immune system in how multiple sclerosis develops and progresses, which has helped us develop numerous disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that can treat MS. Most of these therapies directly modulate the immune system to prevent it from attacking the central nervous system. Having multiple treatment options for MS allows each person living with MS to personalize their treatment.

Early Detection of Multiple Sclerosis

There is emerging evidence that the disease process starts decades before symptoms become apparent. There is an opportunity to intervene during this pre-clinical phase of MS and delay, reduce or perhaps even stop the development of significant disability. We need further research to clearly define MS risk factors so that early detection is possible.

Precision Medicine for Multiple Sclerosis

Because a number of environmental and genetic factors cause MS, no two people experience the disease in exactly the same way. Each patient needs a research-based framework to help them and their doctor select the best treatment for them. This framework, composed of data driven algorithms, combines clinical data and known genetic and environmental risk factors with biological and imaging biomarker data from things like MRIs and CTs.

What’s Promising

It is becoming clear that the innate immune system both protects and harms the central nervous system. As researchers fine-tune this knowledge, they identify new targets for possible pharmaceutical intervention. Biological phenotyping is also helping us understand both relapsing and progressive MS and identify new medications for each of them.

Biomarkers of Multiple Sclerosis

Existing and new biomarkers enable early detection of disease activity. The most advanced fluid biomarker in development is neurofilament light (NfL) which can be monitored with a blood test. Better biological markers and tools, including improved predictive models, will lead to a better understanding of the biology and variation of MS.

What’s Next

Researchers need a greater understanding of the genetic and environmental factors that influence the MS disease course. There are currently far more treatment options for people living with relapsing forms of MS, and we must invest in clinical testing of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for progressive MS.