Can a Test Detect the Early Signs of MS?

For those of you who suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS) and worry that other members of your family may have it too, there may be some good news on the way about identifying this condition early on, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Although no simple blood test currently exists for flagging MS, scientists believe the presence of a spinal fluid protein -- 12.5kDa cystatin -- may be a credible indicator of it. Based on an analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid (the watery substance that cushions and surrounds the brain and spinal cord) taken from 29 patients suffering from MS or its symptoms, this protein was present in two-thirds of them.

How it works: 12.5kDa cystatin is the product of cystatin C, a larger protein that blocks cathepsin B, an enzyme linked to nerve sheath destruction and MS.

In the meantime, if you're taking interferons for MS, you shouldn't be. Although interferons have the appeal of "a natural therapy," they really aren't. Moreover, these drugs force the body to create an unnatural level that's unlikely to be anything but randomly associated with an optimal level. What that in mind, you'll want to review a recent article I posted about treating MS safely.

Annals of Neurology, Vol. 59, No. 2, February 2006: 237-247

EurekAlert March 3, 2006

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