August 25th, 2003
Boston Cure Project
Copaxone (glatiramer acetate, or GA) has been shown in clinical trials to reduce, on average, relapse rates and new lesion formation in groups of patients receiving treatment. However, not all people with MS who go on Copaxone will have this type of beneficial response. Normally Copaxone users and their doctors have to wait for a period of time before deciding whether the drug appears to be improving their situation. Having a way to make this determination sooner would save the nonresponders a great deal of effort, pain, and expense.
A team of scientists in Germany is working to develop a way to distinguish Copaxone responders from nonresponders. In a recent paper1 they present IL (interleukin)-13 and IL-5 as candidate markers for this purpose. They tested the serum levels of these and other molecules in treated and untreated MS subjects. They found that IL-13 and IL-5 appeared to best distinguish responders from nonresponders as well as nontreated subjects. For instance, more than half of the responders had detectable levels of IL-13 in their serum as opposed to only one of the untreated MS subjects and none of the nonresponders. This was a small study (only 25 treated and 38 untreated MS subjects) but the results were striking. Furthermore, measuring serum levels of IL-13 and IL-5 is fairly simple so these molecules could potentially be developed into a very useful marker for gauging the success of glatiramer acetate treatment.
1. "Correlation of serum IL-13 and IL-5 levels with clinical response
to Glatiramer acetate in patients with multiple sclerosis"
Wiesemann E, Klatt J, Wenzel C, Heidenreich F, Windhagen A.
Clin Exp Immunol. 2003 Sep;133(3):454-60
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