The scientists at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) found a missing gene, Tob1 in CD4+ T cells (immune cell), is significant to the early onset of a more serious type of multiple sclerosis (MS) in animal models.
They had goals to repeat what they saw happen in humans, in animal models, and to uncover the reason for it occurring. Working with UCSF neurology researchers, they were able to uncover the Tob1 incident.
As things stand right now, the only way to tell how severe a patient’s MS is by tracking symptoms after diagnosis using the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) along with MRIs. There are five classified types:
Benign MS ~ is a type that some doctors have called for a halt in the term as patients have just enough of MRI abnormalities to be diagnosed but they show very mild disability to none for the next decade to twenty years.
Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) ~ it is characterized by a relapse, a flare-up of symptoms, and then periods of recovery. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe and sometimes both the flares and/or recoveries can last for months. This is the most common type of MS.
Secondary-progressive (SPMS) ~ is often the type of MS that develops in those who start with RRMS. Relapses and partial recoveries occur, but disability doesn’t fade away between the cycles. Progression steadily worsens until disability replaces the cycle of attacks.
Primary-progressive (PPMS) ~ is the type that progresses slowly but steadily from the onset of the disease. There are no periods of remission and the symptoms generally don’t decrease in severity. This type of MS occurs in about 15% if those with the disease.
Progressive-relapsing (PRMS) ~ it is a rare type of the disease in that those who have MS experience the steady worsening of symptoms and attacks during what is ‘suppose’ to be remissions.
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The scientists’ research included mice that had been given MS but lacked the Tob1 gene and found they had developed an earlier and more severe type of the disease. They had higher levels of Th1 and Th17 cells (they cause an inflammatory response that attacks myelin sheath), but lower levels of Treg cells that regulate inflammatory responses.
Sergio Baranzini, PhD, lead author of paper said, “This shows that Tob1 only needs to be absent in this one type of immune cell in order to reproduce our initial observations in mice lacking Tob1 in all of their cells.”
Baranzini said they are currently working on tests that could help doctors with prognostic biomarkers that could help predict the course and severity of individual patients.
“This may become an example of personalized medicine. When the patient comes to the clinic, we will be able to tailor the therapy based on what the tests tell us,” Baranzini said. “We’re now laying the groundwork for this to happen.”
MS can eat away at the nerves themselves and, unlike myelin this is something that is not reversible; so the earlier the diagnosis the better. Especially as it is proven the earlier a diagnosis the better therapies work.
For more info: for those who live in Lima, Ohio, the Northwestern Ohio MS Chapter can be reached at: 410 Tomahawk Drive, Maumee, Ohio at (419) 897-7263. They are located approximately an hour and a half from Lima, Ohio and 45 minutes from Findlay, Ohio. For directions please click here at Google Maps
Multiple Sclerosis Community Support:
- MS World ~ “We’ve come together from around the world to help each other cope with the challenges of living with Multiple Sclerosis.”
- Patients like Me ~ “Our Promise PatientsLikeMe is committed to putting patients first. We do this by providing a better, more effective way for you to share your real-world health experiences in order to help yourself, other patients like you and organizations that focus on your conditions.”
- Med Help, Multiple Sclerosis ~ “Today, MedHelp empowers over 12 million people each month to take control over their health and find answers to their medical questions. MedHelp, a privately-funded company, has over 16 years of accumulated information from doctors and other patients across hundreds of conditions. In addition, MedHelp has long-standing partnerships with the top medical institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, National Jewish, Partners Health, and Mount Sinai. MedHelp’s audience, archives, and partnerships make it a unique health destination on the Internet.”
Sources: Mayo Clinic; University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) (2013, June 24). In multiple sclerosis animal study, absence of gene leads to earlier, more severe disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 25, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/06/130624093411.htm; UCSF Medical Center; Journal Reference: Ulf Schulze-Topphoff, Simona Casazza, Michel Varrin-Doyer, Kara Pekarek, Raymond A. Sobel, Stephen L. Hauser, Jorge R. Oksenberg, Scott S. Zamvil, and Sergio E. Baranzini. Tob1 plays a critical role in the activation of encephalitogenic T cells in CNS autoimmunity. J Exp Med, June 24, 2013 DOI: 10.1084/jem.20121611