Magnetic resonance studies of intramuscular interferon beta-1a for relapsing multiple sclerosis. The Multiple Sclerosis Collaborative Research Group
The Multiple Sclerosis Collaborative Research Group trial was a double-blind, randomized, multicenter, phase III, placebo-controlled study of interferon beta-1a (IFNbeta-1a; AVONEX) in relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Initial magnetic resonance imaging results have been published; this report provides additional results. Treatment with IFNbeta-1a, 30 microg once weekly by intramuscular injection, resulted in a significant decrease in the number of new, enlarging, and new plus enlarging T2 lesions over 2 years. The median increase in T2 lesion volume in placebo and IFNbeta-1a patients was 455 and 152 mm3, respectively, at 1 year and 1,410 and 628 mm3 at 2 years, although the treatment group differences did not reach statistical significance. For active patients, defined as those with gadolinium enhancement at baseline, the median change in T2 lesion volume in placebo and IFNbeta-1a patients was 1,578 and -12 mm3 and 2,980 and 1,285 mm3 at 1 and 2 years, respectively. Except for a minimal correlation of 0.30 between relapse rate and the number of gadolinium-enhanced lesions, correlations between MR and clinical measures at baseline and throughout the study were in general poor. Once weekly intramuscular IFNbeta-1a appears to impede the development of multiple sclerosis lesions at an early stage and has a favorable impact on the long-term sequelae of these inflammatory events as indicated by the slowed accumulation of T2 lesions.