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Catching multiple sclerosis before it strikes
Date:4/29/2010

enty 19-year-old Israelis who were inducted into the army as healthy soldiers, and the nine of them who later developed MS, Prof. Achiron and her team at Sheba were able to use a "high throughput analysis" using more than 12,000 gene transcripts expressions. The screening compared similarities and differences in the blood of those who developed MS and those who did not, eventually establishing biological markers.

"Those who will develop MS will show a different blood signature from those who will not," says Prof. Achiron. "When we compared the gene expression signatures, we saw a similar pattern of the same working biological processes."

Seeing nine years into the future

These early genetic markers may now be used to test for multiple sclerosis up to nine years before healthy young adults start developing symptoms. And because MS is thought to have a genetic component and a tendency to be found in siblings, Prof. Achiron says the biomarkers can be used as a tool for brothers and sisters of patients.

Why test in advance of a cure? "The idea is that we'll know more about the genetics of MS through this new discovery, with the hope that early intervention therapies may be more effective, and help advance medicine toward a cure," Prof. Achiron says.

By the time a person notices symptoms, significant and irreversible nerve damage is already done. MS is classified as an autoimmune disease that afflicts the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms vary, because the location and severity of each attack can be different, and until now, there has been no way of knowing who it will strike. The disease causes the body's immune system's T cells to mistakenly regard the myelin sheath around our body's neurons as foreign, so the immune system starts attacking the sheath, causing neurons to short circuit. The disease is more prelevent in cold climates and attacks twice as many women as men.

This new insight into who will dev
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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