Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects a lot of people around the world. The disease can be a cause for life changing disability for a lot of people who suffer from it. The sad thing is that MS has no cure as of yet. But doctors believe that early detection may help provide a more effective intervention that will result in lesser disabilities for most MS patients.
With over 2 million people affected by MS all over the world according to the National MS Society, early diagnosis and current research being done may help researchers know more about the said disease. A recent finding by a scientist from Tel Aviv University may help in trying to detect MS earlier and, possibly, find a cure for the said disease. Prof. Anat Achiron of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the vice-dean of Research at Sheba Medical Center has found a way of detecting MS in the blood. Her findings, which was published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, may help pave the way for early diagnosis of MS as well as make early treatment of the disease possible.
The study is based on examining blood samples of 20 Israelis aged 19 years old and who were inducted into the army as healthy soldiers. Nine of the said soldiers eventually developed MS. According to Prof. Achiron, "We theorized that if we looked at the gene expression signature of blood cells in healthy people, we could look for possible biological markers that characterize those who subsequently developed MS."
Prof. Achiron and her team at Sheba were able to use a "high throughput analysis" using more than 12,000 gene transcript expressions. The blood screening compared the similarities as well as the differences in the blood of those who developed Ms and those who did not.
"Those who will develop MS will show a different blood signature from those who will not," adds Prof. Achiron. "When we compared the gene expression signatures, we saw a similar pattern of the same working biological processes."
The early genetic markers may now be used to test individuals for MS as early as nine years before they start developing symptoms. The idea of early detection will help early intervention therapies to become even more effective and possibly help find a way towards a cure for the said debilitating disease.
Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Catching Multiple Sclerosis Before It Strikes." ScienceDaily 1 May 2010. 11 May 2010 .