Biomarker May Aid Future MS Diagnosis and Treatment

Researchers have identified a biomarker that may prove useful in the future diagnosis and treatment for multiple sclerosis. Researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai, China have a identified a biomarker that may be linked to the severity of MS symptoms in patients.

The researchers identified short RNA molecules called microRNA’s that were linked to the symptoms of multiple sclerosis in mice. They found out that the level and expressions of certain microRNA’s also affect the severity of certain MS symptoms. When the scientists silenced the expression of a microRNA known as miR-326, the severity of MS symptoms in mice was mild. But when the expression of the said microRNA molecule was increased, the symptoms became more severe.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease characterized by the gradual deterioration of the myelin sheath covering nerve fibers due to attack by the body’s own immune system. The damage in the myelin caused by the immune cell attack can lead to signal problems being sent by the nerve fibers to and from the brain, causing a variety of symptoms ranging from mild and the physically debilitating ones depending on the progress of the disease.

The study linking microRNA’s to MS was initially done on mice models with the details on the specific microRNA’s involved still unclear. But Dr. Changseng Du and colleagues have also found that miR-326 is associated with the severity of multiple sclerosis in humans. The team of researchers have found that the expression of miR-32 is higher in the immune cells of patients with multiple sclerosis as compared to other patients suffering from a different neurological disease that also affects the myelin.

The biomarker is found to be linked to the severity of MS by affecting the production of certain inflammatory proteins. The researchers further believe that learning how to manipulate the microRNA’s in humans in the future can lead to developing better treatments for the disease. Not only that, the same biomarker may also help scientists gain a better understanding of MS and how to diagnose it.




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