Scientists may be one step closer to predicting the uncertain course of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that can lay dormant for months or years, thanks to the discovery of a unique genetic marker. The marker, detailed by researchers in the August edition of The Journal of Immunology, is the first of its kind to be directly linked to MS.
The study, supported by funding from both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) was conducted by a team of scientists with The Ohio State University using blood samples from patients with MS, as well as mouse models. Researchers uncovered the molecule miR-29, while working to identify a biomarker in the blood that could indicate if a patient had an ongoing inflammatory response, such as MS.
“Our research was inspired by the knowledge gap that existed between microRNA and MS, as well as the unpredictable nature of MS,” said Kristen Smith, Ph.D., principal investigator, who received a “mentorship grant” to conduct the study alongside senior scientists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “By identifying a unique marker associated with MS, we hope to inspire a relatively noninvasive test that could identify and predict the course of the disease, helping clinicians tailor therapies to disease progression.”