December 1, 2003
Boston Cure Project
Scientists studying how interferon beta reduces relapses and lesions have identified a biomarker that tracks with response to the drug. This biomarker is a protein called neopterin that is induced by IFN-b and is thought to play a role in the drug's immunomodulatory effect.
In this study of relapsing-remitting MS subjects, administration of Avonex quickly boosted serum levels of neopterin; neopterin levels then gradually dropped back to baseline over time until the next weekly treatment. All 13 subjects exhibited similar serum responses at the beginning of the study, with an approximately 2x boost in neopterin output after treatment. However, after 12 months a significant difference was seen between responders and non-responders (those whose MS had progressed despite treatment). In responders, the neopterin boosting effect was still strong after 12 months, but in non-responders it was greatly decreased. This result and those of similar studies can be followed up to learn how IFN-beta works and develop even more effective drugs, identify responders and non-responders earlier in a course of treatment, and explore why these differences in IFN-beta response exist among people with MS.
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