High-dose interferon beta-1b for multiple sclerosis patients

A study published in this weeks issue of THE LANCET suggests that high-dose interferon beta-1b administered every other day is more effective than interferon beta-1a once a week for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

There are three interferon beta therapies known to be effective in reducing MS symptoms: interferon beta-1a 30 mcg administered intramuscularly once a week; interferon beta-1a 22 mcg or 44 mcg given subcutaneously three times a week; and interferon beta-1b 250 mcg administered subcutaneously on alternate days. However, there is no published research which directly compares the different regimens. Luca Durelli and colleagues from Turin University Medical School, Italy, coordinated a multicentre study in 15 Italian MS centres comparing the clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) benefits of 250 mcg interferon beta-1b given on alternate days with 30 mcg interferon beta-1a once weekly'.

In a 2-year prospective study, 188 patients with relapsing-remitting MS were randomised to receive either interferon beta-1b or interferon beta-1a. Over 2 years, 51% of individuals administered interferon beta-1b remained relapse-free compared with 36% given interferon beta-1a; 55% compared with 26%, respectively, remained free from new proton density/T2 brain lesions at the MRI assessment.

A second study (p 1461) in this weeks issue of THE LANCET examines a possible association between MS and type-1 diabetes (another autoimmune disease) in Sardinia, a population with little genetic variation. Maria Giovanna Marrosu and colleagues from the Department of Neuroscience, Cagliari, Italy, found that the prevalence of type-1 diabetes in people with MS was around three times greater compared with their healthy siblings, and around five times greater than in the general Sardinian population. In an accompanying Commentary (p 1450), ke Lernmark from the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, discusses how susceptibility to MS often protects against di

Contact: Richard Lane

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