NAbs stands for neutralizing antibodies. An antibody is a substance that your body produces when it is exposed to something it doesn't recognize, such as viruses or bacteria. It is designed to help the body get rid of the foreign invader.
Usually, antibodies are useful because they help the body fight off viruses and bacteria. But sometimes, your body can produce antibodies to your MS medication. These antibodies, called neutralizing antibodies, can bind to the medication and make it less effective. Your doctor can tell whether you have NAbs by using a blood test.
NAbs have been reported with the following disease-modifying medications (medications to slow the progression of the disease) for multiple sclerosis (MS):
- interferon beta-1a once weekly (Avonex®)
- interferon beta-1b (Betaseron®)
- glatiramer (Copaxone®)
- interferon beta-1a three times weekly (Rebif®)
For the interferon medications (see above), evidence suggests that NAbs make the medications less effective. But it is not universally agreed whether NAbs actually decrease the effectiveness of glatiramer. So far there is no convincing evidence to suggest that this is the case.
The risk of developing NAbs is different for each disease-modifying medication. To find out the risks of each medication and whether you may be at risk, read "Am I at risk of developing NAbs?"
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