Multiple Sclerose Centrum
Noord Nederland

4. Identify reliable biomarkers for disease progression in MS with a focus on microRNAs

The word ‘biomarker’ is a combination of biological marker and like an MRI-scan, biomarkers can be used as indicators of the medical condition of patients. Our research is focussed on biomarkers present in the blood of people with MS. More specifically, we aim to identify specific biomarkers that predict the transition into different phases of MS. Especially the transition from relapsing-remitting MS to secondary-progressive MS is difficult to detect. Therefore, it is also difficult to decide to adjust the treatment and care and to conclude whether new treatments delay the transition into progressive MS. The search for specific biomarkers in MS can be a starting point for further research on delaying the progression of MS.


microRNAs as biomarkers for disease progression in MS

Researchers – Sebo Withoff and Jan Meilof

Project: At this moment, the onset of secondary progression in MS can only reliably be established retrospectively after a prolonged observation period. This hampers research into early treatment of disease progression. In a transversal and longitudinal study we are testing whether plasma levels of specific circulating microRNAs, small molecules involved in gene regulation, are reliable biomarkers for specific disease stages in MS. microRNA patterns, obtained using next-generation-sequencing technology, will be compared to clinical data. A reliable biomarker for secondary progressive MS (SP-MS) will improve the selection of patients for clinical trials and thus enhance the possibility of finding a disease modifying treatment for SP-MS. After clinical validation, a microRNA biomarker for SP-MS can inform clinicians and patients in choosing the most rational treatment.

Supported by the Dutch MS Research Foundation and Biogen