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More MS news articles for July 2003

Older patients with MS respond to interferon-beta therapy

Monday, July 28, 2003
By Health Newswire reporters
Reference: Waubant et al, Neurology 2003;61:184-189

Around a third of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are treated with interferon-beta therapy (IFNB) will not experience a reduction in the number of annual relapses they have, according to US and French research.

Their study showed that, compared with non-responders, patients who responded to IFNB treatment were older and had suffered from MS for longer before the initiation of IFNB therapy.

Previous research had shown that while therapy with IFNB lowered the relapse rate in patients with MS by about 30 per cent, not all patients responded to treatment.

Dr E Waubant, from the University of California MS Center in San Francisco, and colleagues carried out a study to find out the proportion of patients who would respond to IFNB therapy and to determine whether responders and non-responders would have different clinical characteristics.

The research team extracted data from the European Database for Multiple Sclerosis (EDMUS) on 200 patients with relapsing remitting MS and 62 with relapsing secondary progressive disease who had received IFNB therapy for six months or longer.

Data contained in EDMUS include sex, age at onset of MS, date of commencement and discontinuation of IFNB therapy, date and characteristics of relapses, and disability scale scores.

The study showed that in patients with relapsing remitting MS, who responded to IFNB therapy, the annual relapse rate fell by 47 and 36 per cent, respectively, compared with one and two years before treatment. In this group of patients, 31 per cent were defined as non-responders.

In patients with relapsing secondary progressive disease who responded to IFNB therapy, the annual relapse rate decreased by 36 and 30 per cent, respectively, compared with the two previous years. In this group, 32 per cent of patients were defined as non-responders.

Patients with MS who responded to IFNB therapy were older than non-responders, tended to have had MS for a longer period at the time of treatment initiation, and had experienced a higher relapse rate in the year before commencement of therapy.

The team concludes that clinical profiles of patients with relapsing MS who respond to IFNB may differ from those who do not with a more inflammatory and less neurodegenerative disease at the time IFNB is initiated.

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