When someone is told they have multiple sclerosis. or MS, they not only have to wrestle with the emotional trauma of the news, they then have to figure out which type it is. Not only is testing expensive, it�s time consuming. But patients need to know what type they have in order to begin treatment to ease their symptoms.
To solve the problem, an international group of scientists have now developed a simple blood test. MS is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the myelin sheath that covers and protects nerves inside the brain and spinal cord. This new test is based on measuring a biomarker, in particular an amino acid called tryptophan and its breakdown products.
Even though scientists had known this amino acid is lower in MS patients, it wasn�t possible previously to use it to distinguish between the three MS subtypes. After twelve years of research, the researchers honed in on tryptophan�s breakdown products. By following the breakdown pathways they were able to measure the levels of three breakdown products and found they correlated with disease severity and MS subtypes. The test�s accuracy rate is an excellent eighty-five to ninety percent.
This discovery may also help scientists learn more about what causes MS and its progression and may lead to new treatments. Changes in the breakdown of tryptophan have also been found in other neurologic disorders like Alzheimer�s, Parkinson�s and ALS. Therefore, profiling the tryptophan breakdown products in these other neurological disorders could be also be useful and may point to new avenues for treatment in all of them.
For more information…
Multiple Sclerosis Blood Biomarker Discovered
A simple blood test to identify MS subtypes is on the horizon due to a discovery by an international team of researchers.
First Blood Biomarker for Multiple Sclerosis Discovered
After a search lasting 12 years, an international team of researchers has identified a biomarker that would allow MS subtypes to be determined with a simple blood test.
Extensive information source on multiple sclerosis provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine