The role of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) and transfer factor (TF) in the treatment of multiple sclerosis was investigated in a prospective, multi-centric, three year, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. One hundred and eighty two patients with clinically definite multiple sclerosis were randomised into three treatment groups whose compositions were found to be similar for demographic and prognostic variables including HLA status. Subcutaneous injections of IFN-alpha (3 x 10(6) units), TF (0.5 units) manufactured from leucocytes of cohabiting donors, or placebo were given twice weekly for two months, once weekly for 10 months then fortnightly for 24 months. One hundred and fifty three patients completed the injection regimen. There was no significant difference in the progression of disability for multiple sclerosis patients in either the IFN-alpha or TF-treated groups compared with the placebo group. Similarly, change in visual evoked responses (VER), and in number of oligoclonal bands (OCB) and the level of myelin basic protein (MBP) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) over the trial period did not differ significantly between the three groups. However, the IFN-alpha-treated group had significantly more reported adverse drug reactions and patient withdrawals than either of the other two groups.
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