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Possible biomarker for multiple sclerosis identified

A biomarker for multiple sclerosis that could be an early warning for the disease has shown promise in both human and animal testing.

A biomarker for multiple sclerosis that could be an early warning for the disease has shown promise in both human and animal testing.

Researchers at Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine found that acrolein, a molecule previously suspected as a metabolic waste product that accumulates in people with certain neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, could possibly be used to help diagnose MS.

Multiple sclerosis affects an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and an estimated 1 million people in the United States have MS.  The disease usually is diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and affects twice as many women as men.

Although there is no cure for MS, recent years have seen a flurry of activity around possible biomarkers and possible treatments.

A new urine test for multiple sclerosis could identify the disease much earlier and allow easy monitoring of treatments. @PurdueUnivNews

Dr. David Mattson, professor of neurology and the director of the Indiana University Multiple Sclerosis Center, says that if the results are validated, acrolein could also allow medical professionals to monitor the effectiveness of treatments.

“We are in the process of trying to correlate acrolein levels with MS disease activity, which potentially would help us monitor disease activity with a blood test,” he says. “If this is validated, it would help us decide how aggressive to be with immunotherapy, or whether a therapy is working or there is a need to switch to a different therapy.”

Acrolein is a byproduct of fat metabolism. Dr. Riyi Shi, a professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering in Purdue

University’s Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, has found that an accumulation of the molecule is present in animal models of neurological diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s disease, or even spinal cord and brain injuries. Acrolein is thought to damage cells by disrupting the lipids, or fats, that protect nerve tissue, in a process called lipid peroxidation. Shi said that both blood and urine tests, or assays, have been able to measure acrolein levels in humans and in animal models.

Read on: Possible biomarker for multiple sclerosis identified

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