Now this could explain why the beta-interferon drug used to treat multiple sclerosis patients only works in half of them. Plus a third of them endure flu-like symptoms from the treatment. There are two types of multiple sclerosis, which are different based on the T-cell activity in the body. If a new diagnostic test could check for TH-17 levels, it could determine if beta-interferon would work on the patient even before treatment.
After looking at mice and human samples, Stanford University School of Medicine found that:
- When animals had TH-17, the drugs only made their condition worse. The animals developed worse paralysis.
- But with levels of the other type called TH-1, the animals got better. They threw away the crutches, the researcher explained.
Similar results were seen in humans. If the TH-17 levels were high, they did not respond to beta-interferon treatment. The people with low levels of TH-17 responded well to the drug.
“By making these distinctions in large human studies, people with multiple sclerosis might someday be able to take a simple blood test to see whether they are likely to respond to treatment with the standard multiple-sclerosis therapy.” says senior study author Lawrence Steinman, M.D. of the Neurology and Neurological Sciences Department at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
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