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Novel Study Provides New Evidence for Biomarkers to Help Predict MS Outcomes

November 2, 2023

A new study of 1,463 proteins molecules in 143 people with MS provided evidence of associations with disease activity and disability progression. These kind of novel and meticulous studies are necessary to pinpoint biomarkers that can help guide speedier and more individualized tracking and treatment of MS.
  • Background: Stopping MS means achieving a state of no new disease activity or central nervous system injury, no worsening of daily living or quality of life, and no new manifestations of the disease. This is just one pathway to MS cures, and includes two major objectives: detecting MS early and precision medicine. Existing and new biomarkers enable early detection of disease activity.
  • This Study: A team at Linköping University in Sweden used highly sensitive proteomics technology – which analyzes multiple proteins simultaneously – to look at 1,463 proteins in the blood and spinal fluid of 143 people with early-stage MS compared to 43 controls without MS. They followed this group for an average of six years to see if there was any link between these proteins and MS disease activity, disability progression, and other outcomes.
  • Results: The results showed that lower levels of neurofilament light chain in the spinal fluid (NfL, a molecule that reflects damage to the nervous system and has been extensively studied in MS) was the best predictor that people would experience no MS disease activity in the next two years.
Advanced technology enabled the team to identify not only proteins, but interactions among the proteins. They found that increased levels of a combination of 11 spinal fluid proteins predicted disability progression.
  • Why does this matter? This study provides new evidence for biomarkers that potentially can be used to help diagnose, track and develop strategies for stopping MS. Further research, which is ongoing around the globe, is needed in larger numbers of people to confirm these and other findings so that biomarkers can help speed detection and prevention of MS disease activity in the clinic and in clinical trials. This research also focuses on developing more accessible biomarkers in the blood to reduce the reliance on spinal taps.
Learn more… Proteomics reveal biomarkers for diagnosis, disease activity and long-term disability outcomes in multiple sclerosis” by Julia Åkesson, Sara Hojjati, Sandra Hellberg, Johanna Raffetseder, Mohsen Khademi, Robert Rynkowski, Ingrid Kockum, Claudio Altafini, Zelmina Lubovac-Pilav, Johan Mellergård, Maria C. Jenmalm, Fredrik Piehl, Tomas Olsson, Jan Ernerudh & Mika Gustafsson is published in Nature Communications (2023;14:6903).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


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