A team of German researchers reveal that a simple blood test that can screen for an antibody, found in the blood of people suffering from multiple sclerosis, can help predict the disease long before the onset of its symptoms.
"If our results can be replicated in larger populations, our findings may help to detect MS earlier in a subgroup of patients," study author Viola Biberacher, MD, with Technical University in Munich, Germany, said.
"This finding also demonstrates that the antibody development to the KIR4.1 protein, a protein found in some people with MS, precedes the clinical onset of disease suggesting a role of the autoantibody in how the disease develops," the researcher said.
For the study, 16 healthy blood donors who were later diagnosed with MS were compared to 16 healthy blood donors of the same age and sex who did not develop MS.
Scientists looked for a specific antibody to KIR4.1. Samples were collected between two and nine months before the first symptoms of MS appeared.
In the study, KIR4.1 antibodies were found in the people with pre-clinical MS several years before the first clinical attack. Concentrations of the antibody varied at different time points during pre-MS in individual people.
The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.