NIH Has Better Measure for Disease Progress in MS

MRI scans were surprisingly lacking in sensitivity when it came to tracking the progress of MS. National Institutes of Health researchers came up with a new scale of measurement.

It can be difficult to precisely measure how well therapies are working for patients with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, reported at the ACTRIMS Forum in New Orleans, LA, on the effectiveness of 58 measurements of patients’ disease status.

Those measurements included clinical, electrophysiological, optical coherence tomography, and MRI outcomes.

Reporting in an abstract, they offered findings.

Eleven out of 58 tested measures demonstrated significant disease progression over one year. “Surprisingly, MRI markers did not provide a significant benefit over clinical scales, had limited and poorly-validated correlations with clinical scales, and general low signal-to-noise rations,” the team noted.

Clinical measures were more accurate than the MRIs, they wrote.

“A better performance of the clinical measures and the fact that each of them reflects a somewhat different disability domain” led the researchers to use mathematical modeling to develop a new scale they called CombiWISE, for combinatorial weight-adjusted disability score.

That score uses the expanded disability status scale, Scripps neurological rate scale, the performance on a 25-ft. walk and nine-hole peg test.

“CombiWISE outperformed all tested biomarkers, correlated strongly with standard disability measures” and also required fewer subjects per arm to detect the effectiveness of therapeutic drugs.

The authors said their new scale “shows high sensitivity for longitudinal change” in tracking patients’ illness.