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Timing is everything in the treatment of multiple sclerosis
  1. Claire Louise McCarthy1,
  2. Gavin Giovannoni2,
  3. Alasdair John Coles3
  1. 1Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Alasdair John Coles, ajc1020{at}


We present two similar cases of relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis, both of whom received treatment with the monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab, but had significantly different long-term outcomes. Patient A is 12 years into his illness and was treated early in his disease course, he has no disability and continues to perform at a high level as a professional golfer. Patient B was initially started on interferon-β1a therapy and went on to have two disabling relapses on this treatment which resulted in a degree of fixed disability prior to the start of alemtuzumab. 10 years into his disease course he has moderate disability and daily symptoms of spasticity in his legs which impair his quality of life. These two contrasting cases highlight the difficult decision of when to start potent immune modulating therapies for multiple sclerosis in young adults who appear well early in their disease but have the potential to rapidly accrue irreversible disability from future relapses.

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