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J Korean Med Assoc. 2009 Jul;52(7):665-676. Korean. Original Article.
Kim W , Kim HJ .
Department of Neurology, National Cancer Center, Korea.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) and one of the most common disabling neurological diseases of young adults. Although the exact mechanisms involved in MS pathogenesis remain unclear, MS is believed to be caused by interactions between as yet unidentified environmental factors and susceptibility genes. Symptoms commonly occurred in MS include visual disturbance; weakness; spasticity; sensory disturbances; ataxia; bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction; fatigue; affective symptoms; and cognitive impairment. Most patients initially undergo a relapsing-remitting course, however, without treatment, the majority of them make a transition to the secondary progressive form. The clinical diagnosis is based on demonstrating neurological lesions, predominantly in the white matter, that are disseminated over space with the lapse of time. The key to the successful MS management is to prevent disability. Although there is no effective cure for MS, therapies are available that mitigate the course of the disease, treat relapses and improve symptoms, all of which place a significant impact on patients' quality of life. Recent clinical trials suggest that early identification and treatment are critical to optimize the treatment benefit. Currently six agents have been specifically approved for mitigating the course of MS. These include three formulations of interferon beta, glatiramer acetate, mitoxantrone, and natalizumab. Recent advances in understanding of immune pathogenesis lead us to new therapeutic approaches focused on precise target mechanisms. Many ongoing clinical trials will provide better treatment protocols in near future.

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