Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Oct;100(1):49-62
Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
The role of interferon-beta as a disease-modifying drug (DMD) for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is now well established, and its efficacy has been demonstrated unequivocally in large-scale clinical trials.
However, current evidence suggests that in order to increase the benefit of therapy, use of an effective drug and dosing regimen should be commenced early in the course of the disease, a finding that places new emphasis on the need for early diagnosis.
Indeed, it is now known that MS lesions often develop at a subclinical level and that axonal damage occurs even in the very early stages of the disease.
Moreover, such damage may be irreversible, and there is strong evidence to suggest that efficacy lost as a consequence of delay in the onset of treatment or the use of a suboptimal drug regimen cannot be regained.At present, the choice of interferon-beta is complicated by the availability of 3 different products, each with a different dosing regimen.
Although the optimal interferon-beta dosing regimen for RRMS has been the focus of much discussion, the issues of dose, and particularly dosing frequency, have not been satisfactorily addressed in clinical trials until recently.
Over the last 2 years, however, 3 comparative studies of interferon-beta products have been conducted.
The results obtained from these recent trials underline the importance of both dose and dosing frequency and indicate that for improved efficacy in RRMS, interferon-beta therapy should be administered frequently at the highest tolerable, and thus most effective, dose.