Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common neurological disease in North America and Europe. Although most patients develop major locomotor disability over the course of 15-20 years, in approximately one-third of patients the long-term course is favorable, with minimal disability. Although current disease-modifying treatments reduce the relapse rate, their long-term effects are uncertain. MS treatment trials are challenging because of the variable clinical course and typically slow evolution of the disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is sensitive in monitoring MS pathology and facilitates evaluation of potential new treatments. MRI measurements of lesion activity have identified new immunomodulatory treatments for preventing relapse. Quantitative measurements of tissue volume and structural integrity, capable of detecting neuroprotection and repair, should facilitate new treatments designed to prevent irreversible disability. Higher-field MR scanners and new positron emission tomography (PET) radioligands are providing new insights into cellular and pathophysiological abnormalities, and should be valuable in future therapeutic trials. Retinal axonal loss measured using optical coherence tomography (OCT) can assess acute neuroprotection in optic neuritis.
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