AANResearchers report that early detection of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) may help improve survival and disability levels in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. During a study that encompassed 319 MS patients treated with the drug natalizumab and diagnosed with PML, researchers compared individuals with symptoms of PML at the time of diagnosis to individuals who had no symptoms of infection, yet were diagnosed with the disease by brain scans and tests in the spinal fluid.

Researchers also note that the level of disability for individuals in the study was assessed prior to PML diagnosis, at the time of diagnosis, and again at 6 months and one year following the diagnosis. The results suggest that a total of 21 study participants exhibited no PML symptoms at the time of diagnosis, while 298 individuals had symptoms. Tuan Dong-Si, MD, medical director with Biogen Idec, Weston, Mass, study author, states that the preliminary results ultimately indicate that individuals with no symptoms at diagnosis may have improved survival and less disability than those who had developed symptoms prior to diagnosis.

In a recent news release, researchers state that as of January 1, 2013, all 21 study participants with no symptoms at the time of PML diagnosis were living, compared to 77% of individuals with symptoms at the time of diagnosis. The consequences of PML, Dong-Si concludes, may therefore be mitigated by early detection of the disease.

The research is slated to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23.

Source: American Academy of Neurology