"In some patients, it is difficult to conclusively diagnose MS," said Jagannadha Avasarala, M.D., Ph.D., lead researcher of the study. "Identifying markers for disease has become a rapidly evolving science, particular in cancer diagnostics. In the field of MS, however, there have been no similar studies."
This is the first published report of a potential blood test for MS. For the study, the researchers compared blood samples from 25 patients who were newly diagnosed with MS with blood samples from 25 healthy people to see if there is a "fingerprint," or distinct pattern of proteins and peptides in people with MS. Proteins are made by genes, and the information locked in genes is "expressed" in proteins.
Participants in the study had relapsing-remitting MS, the most common form, which is characterised by attacks interspersed with stable periods. They were not taking medications for MS. The mean age of participants with MS was 29 years; the healthy participants had a mean age of 28.
"In this preliminary investigation, we found a distinct pattern in the MS group that revealed the existence of three markers for the disease," said Avasarala, a neurologist. "This suggests the potential for developing a blood test that could allow us to identify the earliest changes that represent MS and help in its diagnosis."
Currently the disease is diagnosed through a combination of patient history, physical examination, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and laboratory testing, such as lumbar puncture. "MRI is an expensive tool that we might be able to avoid if a blood test can be developed for MS," said Avasarala.
The analysis combined mass spectrometry, a tool for analysing proteins, with special software to recognise proteins patterns.
MEDICA.de; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center