Blood Biomarker to Determine Types of Multiple Sclerosis Identified

         Researchers in Australia have discovered the first-ever blood biomarker—a chemical identifier in the blood—to distinguish the different types of multiple sclerosis (MS). The research was published in Nature Scientific Reports, in the article, “Kynurenine pathway metabolomics predicts and provides mechanistic insight into multiple sclerosis progression.”


         MS has three clinical courses: relapsing remitting, secondary progressive, and primary progressive. Determining the MS course is traditionally a lengthy, challenging process that requires an array of tests. This breakthrough, made by Edwin Lim, PhD, and Gilles Guillemin, PhD, from Macquarie University in Sydney, may change the process. “This significant discovery will facilitate the ability to quickly and simply diagnose the three types of MS and will allow clinicians to adapt their treatment for MS patients more accurately and more rapidly,” says Guillemin.


         The research was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia. The researchers used several repositories to complete these experiments, including the Accelerated Cure Project for MS, The Human Brain and Spinal Fluid Resource Center (sponsored by the National MS Society), and the Tasmanian MS Longitudinal Study.


         “We have been excited to be part of the translation of this fundamental research into a potential clinical blood test,” said Dr. Matthew Miles, CEO of MS Research Australia. “This has the clear capacity to be the first-ever blood biomarker for the prognosis of MS, and in doing so will meet one of the real unmet needs in the clinical management of MS.”


First Results From Phase 3 Ozanimod Trial Show Reduced Relapse Rate

        The first results of a Phase 3 clinical trial of the drug ozanimod on 1,346 individuals in 20 countries with RRMS showed a reduced annualized relapse rate (ARR) while on the oral drug compared to patients taking weekly interferon (IFN) beta-1a (Avonex®).


         Ozanimod (manufactured by Celgene) is thought to act by keeping certain white blood cells in the body’s lymph nodes and out of the central nervous system.


         Researchers compared two oral doses of ozanimod—0.5 mg and 1 mg—with the weekly injection of interferon beta-1a (Avonex) for at least 12 months. Both doses of ozanimod were more effective (showed statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement) compared to Avonex in achieving the trial’s primary objective—a lower relapse rate—and the secondary endpoint of fewer brain MRI lesions over 12 months, data showed.


         “These data add to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of ozanimod as a disease-modifying therapy for relapsing MS,” Bruce Cree, associate professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a press release. “We look forward to the continued study of ozanimod as well as presentation of the full results of the phase III trial at an upcoming international scientific meeting [ECTRIMS, Oct. 23–27, 2017].”