There has long been concern about the effect of neutralising antibodies (NABs) which form in response to regular interferon injections and their effect on the effectiveness of the treatment. Basically, in many people, the body's immune system recognises the injected interferon as foreign, and makes antibodies to it. These antibodies have been known to reduce the effectiveness of the therapy. Nearly half of all people taking Betaferon, for example, develop these antibodies.
New research shows that there is a much bigger problem with NABs. Italian and Dutch researchers have collaborated to show that well after the interferon is stopped in people who develop these antibodies, the antibodies persist, and actually worsen the disease. People with MS with persisting NABs had increased relapse rates, more rapid progression to disability, and more often needed other aggressive drug therapy like mitoxantrone.
This new research raises further questions about the wisdom of using interferons for the treatment of MS when there are safer options available. The full paper can be downloaded below. Interestingly, all but one of the authors disclosed financial ties to many of the drug companies that make and market the interferons. The findings could be interpreted in that light, that is, there may have been a tendency to under-emphasise the negative effects of the interferons for people with MS.
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