In October 2004 the UK MS Society held its national MS convention. The presentation from one its its senior advisers (Alan Thompson) has only recently been posted on its website. His presentation was forward looking and encouraging. He said that:
'We need to suppress inflammation, we need to protect axons, and we need to encourage repair, three things. Now I’ll tell you right at the beginning that most of our focus up until now has been about suppressing or modulating or interfering with inflammation.... there is a real sense that we need to move on quickly in to neuro protection and into repair and remyelination. And these, both of these are things I think which will be happening very, very soon'
Alan Thompson considered that 'effecting or influencing the immune system' may have only limited impact on the progression of the disease[and preventing disability].
On the issue of neuro protection, he said that there were already quite a number of drugs which give some protection to the CNS - many of these are used for other things. However, he said it had been extremely difficult to get industry to support trials for these [I assume there's not much money in it].
I think it's a step in the right direction that it is now being recognised that the immune system element of this disease may not be the most damaging and that more effort needs to go in to protection and repair if disability is to be minimised. However, industry do not seem to be in tune with this thinking and are ploughing all their money into immune system drugs as these offer the big returns. No wonder industry does not want to fund trials for drugs which might protect the CNS - they offer little return. Surely such trials should be funded by our national societies or government. Why should sufferers of this disease become more disabled because industry only funds drugs which tackle one part of the problem -the most profitable part for industry? I think we need to start putting more pressure on our national societies and government on this issue.
In November, it was reported that the UK's top 20 defence equipment projects had experienced an in-year cost increase of £1.5 billion (c.$3 billion). I imagine the US experiences even greater cost increases. Says something about our societies when a few £million cannot be found by government to support trials which could help prevent people becoming disabled!!!