Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Is MS one disease or many?

A few years ago, a former neurologist of mine said he thought that some day, we'd learn that the disease we call 'multiple sclerosis" was actually a bunch of different diseases. I was reminded of this by a couple abstracts in this morning's query of Pub Med:

Two forthcoming studies will investigate the long-term effects of early treatment with interferon beta-1b (IFNbeta) on the course of MS. The BENEFIT study will incorporate pharmacogenetic and pharmacogenomic analyses to determine the genetic elements controlling treatment response. BEST-PGx is an exploratory 2-year study that will investigate the value of RNA expression profiling and pharmacogenetics in predicting treatment response to IFNbeta in patients with early relapsing MS. The main goal of BEST-PGx is the identification of differences in gene expression profiles of patients showing differential treatment responses. In addition, this study may reveal new information relevant to the mechanism of action of interferon treatment in MS and also to differences in the underlying pathology of the immune system. These data may help us approach the goal of a really "individualised therapy" with increased efficacy, reduced adverse drug reactions and more efficient use of healthcare resources.

Link to the abstract.

Treatment of MS has advanced dramatically in recent years, with the introduction of beta-interferons, glatiramer acetate and mitoxantrone. However, not all MS patients respond well to treatment with these drugs, and this may be a consequence of disease heterogeneity. Although immunomodulatory therapy has been clinically proven to be effective in patients with relapsing-remitting MS, studies in secondary-progressive MS patients have only demonstrated a positive therapeutic effect with interferon beta-1b. The pathology and pathogenesis of lesions suggest the need for a subtype-specific treatment, which may be possible when observations from pathology can be acted upon in the living MS patient.

Link to abstract.

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1 comment:

Beth said...

It's hard to believe that we know 20 DNA variations that contribute to greater muscling in pigs, but no one has looked for genes that are associated with MS. Unbelievable.