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Study Draws Reverse Link Between the Number of a Patient's MRI Scans

July 26, 2017

A new study draws a reverse link between the number of MRI scans of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who are on interferon-beta 1a and doctors declaring there is evidence of the patients’ disease worsening. The study was titled “Early MRI results and odds of attaining ‘no evidence of disease activity’ status in MS patients treated with interferon β-1a in the EVIDENCE study” and was published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences. The study applied to relapsing-remitting, or RRMS, patients. “No evidence of disease activity,” or NEDA, is one of the terms doctors use to assess MS patients’ condition. It refers to no signs of the disease worsening, including no indications that patients have had relapses or that their level of disability has advanced.

Researchers looked at evidence from a clinical trial of interferon-beta 1a as a treatment for RRMS patients to see if they could make a connection between the numbers of MRI scans the patients had and how many received a NEDA designation. The MRI-related analysis of the trial results covered three factors: the number of scans that patients had, the number of patients who received a NEDA designation at 24 weeks or beyond, and the characteristics of patients’ diseases that showed up on MRI scans before and after treatment. Researchers randomly assigned RRMS patients to receive either three injections of IFN β-1a a week to the skin, or one injection a week to muscle. Researchers checked for links in both the skin-injected and muscle-injected groups.

Researchers discovered a reverse connection between the number of MRI scans and a NEDA designation 24 weeks after the start of treatment. “Including only the MRI scans at 24 weeks resulted in absolute increases of approximately 20 percent more patients achieving NEDA, compared with including all monthly scans up to that point,” the researchers wrote. Overall, the findings supported the notion that RRMS patients who received skin-injected IFN β-1a came out better on early MRI measures of disease activity and NEDA than those who received the therapy in muscle.