Yale School of Medicine researchers have identified three rapiddiagnostic methods that can target antibodies commonly found inmultiple sclerosis (MS) patients, greatly improving potential diagnosisand treatment.
The team reports their findings in this week's Proceedings of theNational Academies of Science. MS is a crippling neurological diseaseresulting from damage to myelin insulation surrounding nerve fibers,and to nerve fibers themselves. MS symptoms can include muscle weaknessor paralysis, loss of vision, loss of coordination, fatigue, pain andmemory loss. There is currently no cure for MS. Existing medicationsand treatments help manage symptoms, slow down or modify diseaseprogression.
Although anti-myelin antibodies are often found in MSpatients, the diagnostic value of these molecules that respond toinfection are limited because they are also found in patients withoutMS, making it difficult to determine their role in the development ofthe disease. In addition, MS patients might generate anti-myelinantibody responses that reflect, rather than cause, the disease.
To address this diagnostic challenge, Nancy H. Ruddle, theJohn Rodman Paul Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health andImmunobiology at Yale School of Medicine, and her team developed mousemodels to find ways to distinguish between antibodies that cause MSfrom those that are present in MS patients but do not cause diseasesymptoms.
The team, including researchers from the University ofConnecticut, developed two ways to induce MS symptoms in mice. Theyfound that though both treatment procedures yield antibodies to myelin,only one method made antibodies that could cause disease in other mice.These antibodies were shown to recognize and interact with a form ofmodified myelin found in MS. This myelin was not recognized with theantibodies that did not cause disease.
"Our results bring us one step closer to pinpointing moreaccurate diagnostic tools to aid in designing treatments for individualMS patients," said Ruddle, who is also Interim Deputy Dean and InterimVice Chair of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale.
Other authors on the study include first author, Cecilia B. Marta, Alfred R. Oliver, Rebecca A. Sweet and Steve E. Pfeiffer.
PNAS 102: online week of September 19, 2005; in print on October 4, 2005
Cite This Page: