Predicting the severity of multiple sclerosis

September 14, 2016, Linköping University
Researchers at Linköping University isolating immune cells from blood samples. Credit: Linköping University

Cells in the immune system of patients with multiple sclerosis behave differently from those of healthy individuals. Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have exploited this difference to develop a method that can predict disease activity in multiple sclerosis.

It is not currently possible to know which individuals with risk developing severe . Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that mainly affects young adults. The disease is a life-long condition.

The researchers behind the new study hope that the method they have developed will contribute to answering the question why certain patients suffer less severely with the disease than others. Eventually, a test may be developed for use in patient management.

The new study, published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, describes how the researchers have sought biomarkers that can be used in MS. Biomarkers are naturally occurring substances in the body that can be measured in, for example, blood and that mirror a condition in the body. They are used in medical care to follow the progression of a disease and measure the effect of a treatment. The researchers compared from patients with MS with cells from healthy controls. They discovered important differences in the functioning of cells from healthy and sick individuals. The researcher investigated how large numbers of proteins interact with each other, and used new bioinformatics methods to find those that are highly significant in MS.

"We have been able to study in detail changes in the immune cells of patients, and been able to identify important proteins. This has led us to a biomarker that can predict how the disease will progress in the patient", says bioinformatics specialist Mika Gustafsson, who has led the study together with Professor Jan Ernerudh.

The biomarker that the researchers have identified is a combination of four proteins, whose concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid can be measured. In the study, it was possible for the researchers to predict with the aid of the biomarker which patients with MS would have active MS disease two years later. The new method was also able to predict the efficacy of a common MS drug in a small group of .

"Being able to determine the prognosis more accurately is a huge step forward when it comes to choosing the correct treatment," says Jan Ernerudh, professor of clinical immunology.

Explore further: African-American lupus patient immune cell characteristics may increase disease severity

More information: Sandra Hellberg et al. Dynamic Response Genes in CD4+ T Cells Reveal a Network of Interactive Proteins that Classifies Disease Activity in Multiple Sclerosis, Cell Reports (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.08.036

Related Stories

African-American lupus patient immune cell characteristics may increase disease severity

June 16, 2016
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that affects multiple organs. SLE severity is highly variable, and this variability is known to be partially dependent on ancestral background. Notably, African ...

Major step towards Alzheimer's blood test

August 31, 2016
A research team, led by Cardiff University, has made a significant step towards the development of a simple blood test to predict the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

New stem cell transplantation method may halt multiple sclerosis symptoms long-term, but therapy comes with high risk

June 9, 2016
A new use of chemotherapy followed by autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) has fully halted clinical relapses and development of new brain lesions in 23 of 24 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) for ...

Interleukin 17F level and interferon beta response in patients with multiple sclerosis

June 3, 2013
A study by Hans-Peter Hartung, M.D., of Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldoft, Germany, and colleagues examines the association between IL-17F and treatment response to interferon beta-1b among patients with relapsing-remitting ...

An antibody-based drug for multiple sclerosis

July 20, 2016
Inserm Unit U919, directed by Prof. Denis Vivien ("Serine Proteases and Physiopathology of the Neurovascular Unit") has developed an antibody with potential therapeutic effects against multiple sclerosis. The study, directed ...

Children with and without multiple sclerosis have differences in gut bacteria

May 16, 2016
In a recent study, children with multiple sclerosis had differences in the abundance of specific gut bacteria than children without the disease. Certain types of bacteria were either more or less abundant in children with ...

Recommended for you

Researchers identify source of molecule linked to nasal polyps, asthma attacks

May 23, 2018
A new discovery about how the immune system responds to common sinus infections and asthma could explain why patients develop these issues in the first place and ultimately may lead to improved targeted therapies. Researchers ...

Study demonstrates new treatment for severe asthma

May 22, 2018
Researchers from McMaster University and the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, together with colleagues at other partnering institutions, have developed a new method to treat ...

Eczema drug effective against severe asthma

May 21, 2018
Two new studies of patients with difficult-to-control asthma show that the eczema drug dupilumab alleviates asthma symptoms and improves patients' ability to breathe better than standard therapies. Dupilumab, an injectable ...

Neuron guidance factor found to play a key role in immune cell function

May 21, 2018
Macrophages are white blood cells involved in a variety of biological functions, from destroying infectious pathogens to repairing damaged tissue. To carry out their different roles, macrophages must first be activated and ...

Immune cells hold promise in slowing down ALS

May 21, 2018
Recent research from Houston Methodist Hospital showed that a new immunotherapy was safe for patients with ALS and also revealed surprising results that could bring hope to patients who have this relentlessly progressive ...

First clues to the causes of multiple sclerosis

May 16, 2018
Multiple sclerosis, which affects one in 1,000 people, is frequently characterised by relapses associated with variable functional impairments including among others vision problems, impairment of locomotor functions or difficulties ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.