New biomarker for disease progression in multiple sclerosis
The autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis can take a variety of courses. Determining the current and future progression of the disease is important in order to slow down its course as much as possible. Researchers at the University of Basel have presented a biomarker whose values in the blood allow such predictions.
06 February 2023 | Barbara Peters, Angelika Jacobs
The researchers focused on a cell component that is measurable in the blood and is characteristic of a certain type of brain cell. These cells, called astrocytes, play a key role in multiple sclerosis (MS) processes, which can lead for example to permanent paralysis and disability.
The blood level of this cellular component, called “glial fibrillary acidic protein” (GFAP), increases when astrocytes are activated or damaged. The new study by the research group led by Professor Jens Kuhle and published in the journal JAMA Neurology shows that elevated GFAP blood levels can indicate both current and future progression of MS. Their results are based on data from, inter alia, the Swiss Multiple Sclerosis Cohort (see box).
Use of biomarkers is changing clinical practice
In a short space of time, the research group headed by Kuhle at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel has thus presented a second biomarker that can support therapy decisions in MS. Last year, the research team demonstrated that some persons with MS with an apparently stable disease course had high blood levels of the neurofilament light chain (NfL) biomarker. NfL specifically indicates neuronal damage.