Increasing Accuracy of Current Diagnostics in MS

It is difficult to determine whether a patient suffering from a first demyelinating event will or will not go on to develop relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. The current way of determining risk of conversion to relapsing MS after a first demyelinating event is to measure MRI parameters and determine whether or not the patient has unique spinal fluid antibodies called oligoclonal bands using a test that was developed over fifty years ago. These tests are helpful, but fall short in their ability to provide accurate and detailed prognostic information for patients and their physicians. Dr. Schubert and his team are leveraging advancements in genomics, computer science, and clinical medicine to test whether a comprehensive picture of a patient’s spinal fluid antibody “fingerprint” can improve the predictive power and accuracy of current MS diagnostics.

The American Brain Foundation is proud to partner with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to support this project.

Ryan Schubert MS & Autoimmune Disease March 1, 2018 at 8:09 am

 

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Project Description

The Burden of Multiple Sclerosis:
Currently, it is difficult to determine whether a patient suffering from a first demyelinating event will or will not go on to develop relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. This is important because patients who go on to develop relapsing MS are much more likely to benefit from ongoing monitoring and treatment. The current way of determining risk of conversion to relapsing MS after a first demyelinating event is to measure MRI parameters and to use a test first developed over fifty years ago to look for the presence or absence of spinal fluid antibodies called oligoclonal bands. These are qualitative assays in need of updating in the era of precision medicine.

Our Plan to Help:
Dr. Schubert hopes to increase the accuracy of current diagnostics in MS by personalizing spinal fluid antibody testing. This will help clinicians decide how best to treat and monitor their patients. A necessary step to achieving this goal, and an improvement over other research efforts to identify high-risk patient subsets, will be Dr. Schubert's comprehensive identification of the host target and viral trigger antigens in MS. If successful, this project would lead to the development of more precise spinal fluid diagnostics in MS while simultaneously identifying the targets and triggers of the immune response in patients with MS.

The Potential Impact of  the Results:
The results could help people who have suffered a first demyelinating event make more informed decisions about the monitoring and treatment of their condition. Dr. Schubert expects that within two years from the start of this project he will have sufficient statistical power to determine whether or not his test can accurately diagnose MS. At the same time, the results would have immediate impact on the scientific community because it will for the first time comprehensively identify the host target and viral trigger antigens in patients who have suffered a demyelinating event. These data will shed light on the etiology and pathogenesis of MS and provide leads for future investigations.

How You Can Help:
By donating to Dr. Schubert's research you are directly contributing towards a more accurate way to diagnose, treat, and monitor MS.

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