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BACKGROUND: Some multiple sclerosis (MS) patients treated with interferon beta (IFN beta) develop antibodies to the drug. Neutralising antibody (NAB) assays for IFN beta are expensive and the clinical relevance of the results has been debated. OBJECTIVE: To establish a cheap, sensitive, and reliable assay for antibodies to (125)I-IFN beta, and to correlate levels of antibodies with clinical response to IFN beta treatment. METHODS: We established a radioimmunoprecipitation assay (RIPA) using (125)I-IFN beta. We tested NAB positive sera, healthy control sera, and serial samples of 33 IFN beta-1b treated MS patients from the Vancouver cohort of the Berlex pivotal trial who had a high incidence of NABs. RESULTS: We found that the RIPA was highly sensitive for the detection of antibodies to IFN beta-1a and -1b, and that there was a strong correlation between reactivity of NAB positive sera for (125)I-IFN beta-1b and for (125)I-IFN beta-1a. The RIPA was more sensitive and consistent than the NAB. Moreover, there was a trend towards poorer MRI outcomes in RIPA positive patients, but not in NAB-positive patients. CONCLUSIONS: The RIPA assay is sensitive and easy to perform. It should be of value in assessing the clinical impact of IFN beta antibodies, and its use could help target expensive INF beta treatments to those who will respond best.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Publication Date





1236 - 1239


Antibodies, Antibody Formation, Cost Control, Humans, Immunologic Factors, Interferon-beta, Multiple Sclerosis, Radioimmunoprecipitation Assay, Reproducibility of Results, Sensitivity and Specificity