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Research Focuses On MS Biomarker

By Jill Sheridan, IPB News | Published on in Health, Science
Initial tests in humans have found the substance acrolein – an excreted waste product – can accumulate in some people and damage the myelin, which surrounds the nerve cell like insulation on a copper wire. (Michel J. Schweinsberg/Purdue University)
Initial tests in humans have found the substance acrolein – an excreted waste product – can accumulate in some people and damage the myelin, which surrounds the nerve cell like insulation on a copper wire. (Michel J. Schweinsberg/Purdue University)
Research to treat disorders of the nervous system has taken another step. A chemical linked to these disorders has been identified in humans for the first time.

Previous studies from Purdue University investigators have identified a compound called acrolein in mice urine that relates to multiple sclerosis. Riyi Shi is a professor of neuroscience at Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Weldon School. He worked with researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine on a recent study.

“It’s very similar to animal data, actually in the human MS patient. In their blood, in their urine, this particular neurotoxin is elevated,” says Shi.

That could mean a biological signpost – or biomarker – for MS, a degenerative disease. The findings also point to treatment options that are already on the market.

Shi says this could provide a way to monitor the disease and assess treatment.

“We believe this could be a common final pathway in terms of neuro-inflamation which eventually damages the tissue,” says Shi.

There is no cure for MS. But Shi also helped develop the first FDA-approved drug to improve motor skills for people with MS.

The study has state and federal support. Shi hopes a clinical trial will follow.