New laboratory test to aid MS suffers treatment

Tuesday August 30, 2011

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.​

Page last reviewed: 13 February 2014