Scientists in the US believe they have found a way to delay the development of developing clinically definite multiple sclerosis (MS) in patients that have suffered an initial MS attack.
The study, reported in the Neurology journal, found that early treatment with the Avonex drug following a first attack could delay relapses by up to five years.
The drug was also found to reduce the build up of brain lesions following an attack.
Those who took Avonex immediately after an initial episode were found to have reduced the risk of suffering a second attack by 43 per cent compared to those who received a placebo.
It is hoped the drug could also prove effective for significantly longer than the five-year study period could ascertain.
Philip Kinkel, the associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School said that the study "provides additional evidence that patients who start on Avonex earlier have a sustained advantage over those patients who start therapy later."
Further tests on the drug are expected in the near future.