Delays in Diagnosing MS Highlight Need for More Awareness, Research

A new report has called attention to the need to increase investment in multiple sclerosis (MS) research and boost awareness of the illness. The report, which was released on World Multiple Sclerosis Day, was produced by MS Australia.

Currently, more than 30,000 Australians live with multiple sclerosis. This is a chronic illness that affects the spinal cord and brain. Researchers have observed that the number of individuals being diagnosed with this condition has been growing at an alarming rate.

The study found that the average time from when a patient began presenting with the disease’s symptoms to diagnosis was almost four years.

The study made use of data from the Australian MS Longitudinal Study, which began in 2002 and collects data on patients living with multiple sclerosis. This data was reviewed by the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, focusing on trends in multiple sclerosis diagnosis over the last two decades.

The investigators determined that since the first illness-modifying treatments for multiple sclerosis were introduced in 1996, the average time to diagnosis had decreased from five years and about four months to three years and eleven months in the period between 2017 and 2021. While this decrease in diagnosis time is good, many individuals still take a long time to get diagnosed.

The report underlined key areas that needed to be addressed to improve diagnosis time from the conditions. Those areas include the following:

  • better understanding of early multiple sclerosis symptoms by the community
  • better funding for research to help identify techniques for earlier detection of the condition
  • improved awareness and education of the condition among healthcare professionals

MS Australia’s head of research, Dr. Julia Morahan, stated that delays in multiple sclerosis diagnosis lost crucial time for individuals living with the condition and could result in great mental distress and permanent damage. This, she explained, was because the risk of disability accumulating and damage occurring was greater if diagnosis took longer and diminished an individual’s quality of life.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include walking difficulties, severe pain, cognitive issues, partial blindness and debilitating fatigue.

Monash University’s Vilija Jokubaitis, an associate professor from the Department of Neuroscience, is positive that breakthroughs in earlier diagnosis are possible with more financial support for research on the condition, better resources and MS biobanks. Jokubaitis explained that more investment in research will back efforts to discover more accurate biomarkers which are specific to the condition, noting that these biomarkers may be present in cerebral spinal fluid or blood.

Enterprises such as Clene Inc. (NASDAQ: CLNN), which are devoting considerable resources towards developing effective ways to protect mitochondria health and thereby manage neurodegenerative ailments such as MS, can also help to drive greater awareness of this condition and the available ways of treating it.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Clene Inc. (NASDAQ: CLNN) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CLNN

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