Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Biomarker for Multiple Sclerosis

06.11.2015

Patients with multiple sclerosis often receive a "hit and miss" treatment when the disease breaks out. A blood analysis is now for the first time able to reveal which of the two most important first-line drugs is better suited for which patients.

More than two million people worldwide suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS). In this disease, which progresses by successive flare-ups, the immune system destroys "by mistake" cells in the brain and the spinal cord.


A blood analysis is able to show which therapy is better suited for patients with multiple sclerosis.

Picture: Michael Christof

This leads to spots of inflammation that cause more or less severe symptoms, depending on their location and size: the affected persons may feel a tingling sensation in their arms and legs, they trip frequently or have vision problems. In extreme cases, they can no longer walk on their own and are confined to a wheelchair.

So far, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but the available drugs can at least mitigate the symptoms. "We cannot even predict when a patient will have a next flare-up, or whether MS will develop after a first flare-up", says Stefanie Kürten, Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, JMU.

Although new drugs have been introduced to the market recently, there is no way of telling which of them is best suited for which patients. "Quite often doctors simply try one drug, and if it doesn't work, they try the next", says Dr. Kürten. This is, of course, very frustrating for both patient and doctor – all the more because it is a known fact that MS must be treated efficiently at an early stage to prevent its long-term progress and the loss of brain tissue.

B cells can be used as biomarkers

Dr. Kürten's team has now succeeded for the first time in developing a biomarker for MS: a blood analysis may be able to help decide which of the two "therapy classics" should be used in the early phase of the disease. Patients with autoreactive B cells in their blood would need to be treated with Copaxone, whereas patients without such B cells are likely to benefit more from an IFN-beta therapy.

These findings were made in cooperation with TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries and Cellular Technology Limited.

How is the biomarker test performed? "All we need are blood samples from the patients", explains Dr. Kürten’s colleague Damiano Rovituso. The white blood cells are isolated from the samples and stimulated for four days in a cell culture so that the immune system's memory B cells start producing antibodies. "We then determine whether these antibodies attack the tissue of the central nervous system." This is a highly specific test for multiple sclerosis, because B lymphocytes and their antibodies can contribute directly to nerve fibre damage.

Several hospitals contribute to the study

The findings of the study have been published in the "Scientific Reports" journal. The scientists have performed tests on a total of 57 MS patients. Contributors to the study were the Departments of Neurology of the University Hospitals of Cologne and Würzburg, as well as the Klinikum Augsburg, the Caritas hospital Bad Mergentheim and the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

Clinical study with more patients needed

Before these new insights may find their way to standard treatment, they have to be confirmed by a clinical study with a larger number of patients. Stefanie Kürten says that such a study is expected to start in 2015, funded by the pharmaceutical company TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries.

The study will be performed in cooperation with Stefan Braune, Professor of Neurology at the Technical University of Munich, TUM. He will recruit for the study patients from all over Germany through the nationwide network NeuroTransData GmbH.

Next step: Explore the effect of antibodies

In a next step, Stefanie Kürten wants to find out which target structures in the brain are attacked by the antibodies from the memory B cells of individual positive tested patients. By this she expects to gain further insight into the course of the disease. "We may then be able to develop therapies that attack the pathogenic B cells directly."

„The brain antigen-specific B cell response correlates with glatiramer acetate responsiveness in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients”, Damiano M. Rovituso, Cathrina E. Duffy, Michael Schroeter, Claudia C. Kaiser, Christoph Kleinschnitz, Antonios Bayas, Rebecca Elsner & Stefanie Kuerten. Scientific Reports 5, Article number 14265 (2015), DOI: 10.1038/srep14265

Contact

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Kürten, Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology of the University of Würzburg, stefanie.kuerten@uni-wuerzburg.de

Robert Emmerich | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
22.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>