All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for June 2004

In cytokine modulation, IFN-b's are not all alike

Thursday June 10, 2004
Hollie Schmidt
Boston Cure Project

The three MS-approved interferon-beta products (IFN-beta 1a, aka Avonex and Rebif, and IFN-beta 1b, aka Betaseron), differ in terms of dosage, injection method, and frequency of administration. IFN-beta 1a and 1b also differ in how they are manufactured (1a in Chinese hamster ovary cells, and 1b in E.coli bacteria). A team of researchers in Slovenia wondered how these differences would affect the influence of these drugs on levels of cytokines (inflammation-modulating molecule) in subjects with MS.

They tracked 12 subjects starting Betaseron treatment and 10 starting Avonex treatment over a period of two years, taking periodic blood samples and measuring the levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The scientists expected to find that the overall pattern of cytokine changes would be similar in both groups of subjects although the magnitudes might be different. Instead they found that Betaseron appeared to decrease the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IFN-gamma) whereas Avonex increased the level of anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-4 and IL-10). So apparently which IFN-beta drug you take affects how your immune system is modulated. Ideally more investigation into these findings will someday lead to personalized product recommendations for people starting treatment, based not just on factors like convenience but on actual individual efficacy expectations.

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