On the first point- The polite term that was first used by the neuro who put me on Avonex was that it was a modulator of the immune system. I think he assumed it behaved in a similar fashion to cortisone based treatments which would aim to dampen the immune reaction. Interferon just doesn't work that way. This link to a Wikipedia summary sets it out fairly well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interferon
To quote from the article-
"IFNs have other functions: they activate immune cells, such as natural killer cells and macrophages; they increase recognition of infection or tumor cells by up-regulating antigen presentation to T lymphocytes; and they increase the ability of uninfected host cells to resist new infection by virus. Certain host symptoms, such as aching muscles and fever, are related to the production of IFNs during infection."
It is not downregulating the immune system rather interferon is a massive jolt to fire it into action.
Dampening the immune system down is just asking for trouble. If your doctor thinks that's right to do that except to halt a severe attack then I feel he is doing a disservice. A strong immune system is vital.
I'm not sure which study you were referring to about the efficacy of Interon for MS but all studies have terms of reference. If that study says that, in isolation, Interferon doesn't achieve much then I'd agree. Where I found I got some bang for my buck was when I added an antiviral. On it's own the antiviral was a failure for me as well. Studies using just the antiviral I use (Valtrex) said it didn't work either.
I start with a premise that EBV is a problem and leads to disruption of the Glycogenic cycle. Using a combination approach I've had a lot of success. Other MS people I know who tried the same approach have noticed it has helped them. It's not quick to fix but I'm really very well these days.
I still think our friend on this thread should try the Avonex but perhaps she needs some help managing the side effects. It's a lonely road to travel and people who don't inject just don't really get it. That includes the doctors.
If we just focus on Interferon then we may blame the adverse reaction it creates on MS when it's really other pathogens we can eliminate that makes the effect so bad.
I use Panadol rapid when I inject but thankfully the side effects have moderated since I began to recover.