Newly introduced disease-modifying therapies offer greater efficacy than previous therapies but also have serious side effects. This article reviews factors useful in identifying those at risk of developing aggressive relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) and therapies available for treatment.
Several factors predict aggressive MS, including demographic factors, relapses, symptom characteristics, MRI activity, and other biomarkers. These can be used to select patients for more aggressive therapies, including natalizumab, alemtuzumab, fingolimod, and ocrelizumab. Additional off-label treatments are available for patients with severe disease. The benefits and side effects of these treatments must be considered when making therapeutic decisions.
Selecting patients who are most appropriate for aggressive therapy involves considering risk factors for poor outcomes, early recognition of treatment failure, balancing treatment efficacy and side effects, and sharing the decision with patients to assist them in making optimal treatment choices. Vigilance for signs of treatment failure and early switching to more aggressive therapy are important components in optimal care.