The discovery could change the way drugs are used, say researchers from New York University's Langone Medical Centre, especially in patients whose condition has stabilised.
Almost nothing is known about the progress of stabilised MS, especially if it's not being controlled by drugs, and so the researchers monitored the health of 181 patients who had stopped their medication to find out. They were watched for a minimum of three years and, during that time, 40 per cent suffered some relapse or their symptoms returned. However, the majority were still free of any recurrence of symptoms for at least three years afterwards.
Around 2.3 million people around the world suffer from MS. It's a disease that affects the central nervous system, causing a range of disabilities, including muscle weakness, pain, co-ordination problems, and vision and hearing loss.
(Source: Proceedings of the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, April 21)