Dec 6, 2002
By Rossella Lorenzi
A simple blood test could replace magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in monitoring multiple sclerosis (MS), according to researchers from Florence University who developed it and hope to market it within a year.
The test, called MS Pepkit, was presented on Friday in Florence at a meeting on the role of peptides in immunology research.
Dr. Anna Maria Papini, and colleagues from Florence University have identified and synthesized a molecule--glycopeptide CSF114--able to detect pathogenic autoantibodies in MS patients' sera. CSF114 is used as a reagent in an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Serial studies of MS patients demonstrated that antibody titre correlates with disease activity. An increase in antibody titre is detectable before new myelin lesions can be identified by Gd-enhanced MRI, the researchers said.
"This kit can be a cheap methodology to follow disease activity, target therapies, and help the patients to achieve a better quality of life," Dr. Papini told Reuters Heath.
Funded by Csf, a Florentine company active in the biomedical sector, the MS kit will represent the first "spin off" from Florence University. In the venture, Csf will hold 55% of shares, the University 20% while the remaining 25% will be shared by the researchers involved in the project.
"The kit validation is in progress. More than 300 sera of MS patients,
corresponding to monthly [sampling] for at least twelve months, are being
tested, in parallel with MRI. Important research centres and hospitals
are involved in the project. We believe that the kit will be put on the
market within a year," Dr. Papini said.
© 2002 Reuters Ltd