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Article
August 8, 1986

Diverse Approaches to New Therapies May Hold Promise in Multiple Sclerosis

JAMA. 1986;256(6):685-687. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380060011002

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Abstract

"WE ARE GROPING in the dark, working at the edges of the problem," admits Gary Birnbaum, MD, associate professor of neurology, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis.

"The problem" is multiple sclerosis. It is the most common degenerative inflammatory neurological disease to strike people of working age (15 to 55 years)—an estimated 150 000 in the United States—according to a spokesperson at the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke. Although clinical features were described more than 100 years ago by the 19th century Paris neurologist Jean Martin Charcot, its causes and cure remain elusive.

Birnbaum's comment about multiple sclerosis was echoed by many of the physicians and other medical scientists at the American Academy of Neurology meetings in New Orleans. They are all too familiar with the scores of promising therapies that ultimately proved ineffective.

What is more, even though there are probably more well-designed clinical trials

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