In the laboratory, scientists think that neutralizing antibodies (NABs) stop the activity of interferon medications. In a person with MS, it is more difficult to figure out the impact of NABs, as there aren't any clear-cut ways to measure it. However, doctors think that NABs usually develop in the first year of receiving interferon treatment. It is difficult to predict who will and will not develop NABs, but scientists think that people who do not have NABs after the first three years of treatment will usually not produce NABs later.
Experts are beginning to realize that NABs play an important role in how people respond to MS treatment. This is a significant new area of study. Several research studies have specifically tested for NABs in people with MS receiving treatment with interferon medications. The key interferon clinical trials all included some form of NAB testing. Problems linked to NABs were not always seen in shorter studies (two years or less in duration). Longer-term research (two to four years in duration) has suggested that NABs do interfere with treatment effects. But there are still many unanswered questions, as researchers have not found any conclusive results. Many people with MS who develop neutralizing antibodies continue to benefit from their treatment, while others do not. Some people remain free of neutralizing antibodies yet respond poorly to treatment with interferon.
Overall, the most important criteria for determining the effectiveness of your interferon treatment is how you're doing and how you feel, as decided by you and your doctor.
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