Four published genome screens have identified a number of markers with increased sharing in multiple sclerosis (MS) families, although none has reached statistical significance. One hundred and five markers previously identified as showing increased sharing in Canadian, British, Finnish, and American genome screens were genotyped in 219 sibling pairs ascertained from the database of the Canadian Collaborative Project on Genetic Susceptibility to MS (CCPGSMS). No markers examined met criteria for significant linkage. Markers located at 5p14 and 17q22 were analyzed in a total of 333 sibling pairs and attained mlod scores of 2.27 and 1.14, respectively. The known HLA Class II DRB1 association with MS was confirmed (P
To determine whether sulfasalazine is better than placebo in slowing disability progression in MS.
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III trial, 199 patients with active relapsing-remitting (n = 151) or progressive (n = 48) MS were evaluated at 3-month intervals for a minimum of 3 years (94% completed 3 years of follow-up; mean follow-up, 3.7 years). MRI studies were performed at 6-month intervals on a subset of 89 patients.
Sulfasalazine failed to slow or prevent disability progression as measured by the primary outcome (confirmed worsening of the Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS] score by at least 1.0 point on two consecutive 3-month visits). Sulfasalazine influenced favorably a number of secondary outcomes during the first 18 months of the trial (e.g., annualized relapse rate, proportion of relapse-free patients; progressive subgroup only: rate of EDSS progression at 1 and 2 years, median time to EDSS progression) but these positive findings were not sustained into the second half of the trial.
Sulfasalazine does not prevent EDSS score progression in the subset of MS patients studied by this protocol. Treatments may improve relapse-related outcomes in MS, at least temporarily, without providing sustained slowing of EDSS progression. Phase III MS trials should be of sufficient length to determine a meaningful impact on disease course.