Canterbury Health Laboratories has introduced a new test to help improve the
way patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) receive treatment from their
neurologists – both here in New Zealand and Australia.
The test measures blood levels of a biomarker, which normally rises in
patients taking beta-interferon. Beta-interferon is one of a number of therapies
effective in reducing disease activity in patients with MS.
Dr Deborah Mason, Canterbury District Health Board neurologist, says that if
a normal biomarker response is not observed the patient may have developed
antibodies to the drug and may need to be switched to an alternative medicine.
“This test allows us to refine and improve the management of patients with
multiple sclerosis on beta-interferon therapy,” Dr Mason says.
The test is only available from Canterbury Health Laboratories and is
provided to neurology specialists across Australia and New Zealand.
MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes
the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The CNS is responsible for our
conscious and unconscious functioning, including movement and the response to
sensations such as sight, touch and hearing. It directs these functions by
sending its instructions in the form of electrical impulses to the appropriate
sites along nerve fibres.
There are about 3000 New Zealanders who have been diagnosed and are currently
living with MS. It usually presents as the relapsing-remitting form and
progresses to a more disabling disease in 50 percent of patients.
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