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Study Uncovers Markers for Severe Form of Multiple Sclerosis

September 19, 2017

Scientists have uncovered two closely related cytokines — molecules involved in cell communication and movement — that may explain why some people develop progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), the most severe form of the disease. The findings, authored by researchers at Yale University, Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of California point the way toward developing a novel treatment to prevent progressive forms of the disease.

The research was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers identified a cytokine, called macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), along with its related protein, which are associated with progressive MS. These cytokines worsen the disease by increasing inflammation within the central nervous system. The researchers also linked enhanced expression of MIF with a gene variant that occurred more frequently in MS patients with progressive disease — particularly in men.

These findings suggest that a simple genetic test could be used to identify MS patients at risk of developing the more severe form of the disease. As medications to halt the disease are under development, the researchers say that such a therapy could be used as part of a precision medicine approach that would be most effective in patients who have the MIF genetic susceptibility.

READ MORE via Yale