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Glutamate Identified As Predictor of Disease Progression in Multiple Sclerosis
Date:4/30/2009

UCSF researchers have identified a correlation between higher levels of glutamate, which occurs naturally in the brain as a byproduct of metabolism, and greater disease burden in multiple sclerosis patients.

(Vocus) April 30, 2009 -- UCSF researchers have identified a correlation between higher levels of glutamate, which occurs naturally in the brain as a byproduct of metabolism, and greater disease burden in multiple sclerosis patients. The study is the first to measure glutamate toxicity in the brain over time and suggests an improved method for tracking the disease and predicting its course.

The research team employed a novel technique, developed by Radhika Srinivasan, PhD, study author and assistant researcher in the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, to measure glutamate levels in clinical trial patients. The technique was based on a sophisticated form of imaging known as proton MR spectroscopy, which uses simple radio-frequency pulses targeting specific brain chemicals.

Study findings were presented today (April 29, 2009) during the American Academy of Neurology annual scientific meeting in Seattle.

Glutamate, a neurotransmitter, in normal levels performs fundamental processes like memory and sensory perception. In excess, it triggers a cascade of negative reactions in the brain leading to many of the complications associated with neurologic diseases such as MS, Parkinson's disease, stroke, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease) and Alzheimer's disease by destroying nerve cells and causing seizures, injury after stroke, and the perception of pain, among other problems.

Already a target for therapeutic drug development, the identification of the glutamate pathway
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