Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, which attacks myelin, a protective material that insulates nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Over time, MS can cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue and problems with vision. Currently there is no cure, but treatment with beta-interferons (IFNBs) is available to reduce the frequency of MS attacks. After a MS patient treated with IFNBs and other medications developed liver failure, Dr. Helen Tremlett initiated research examining liver function in patients treated with beta-interferons. The research revealed that 20 to 40 per cent of MS patients treated with IFNBs developed liver enzyme abnormality.
Now Dr. Tremlett is extending her research to also investigate MS patients treated with other drugs. Since many MS patients take multiple medications, her goal is to determine whether use of other drugs increases the risk of liver injury associated with IFNBs. She is also interested in determining if MS patients taking medications other than IFNBs developed liver damage. The research could provide insights about whether people with MS are at greater risk of liver injury, and whether IFNBs are the likely cause.