Blood Test May Improve Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

Test can identify multiple sclerosis from other neurological conditions.

A blood test can distinguish between multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological conditions, reported Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

Findings from a study published in EBioMedicine, suggest that the blood test is a promising candidate for making an initial MS diagnosis that is cheap, fast, and easy. For the study, researchers enrolled 200 participants separated into 3 groups, which consisted of MS patients, patients with other neurological conditions, and healthy controls.

A blood sample was taken from each participant followed by a lab test to measure how much C-peptide that was added to the blood would bind to red blood cells, MS News Today reported. C-peptide is produced by the pancreas, in addition to insulin, and has long been viewed as a marker of insulin production in type 1 diabetes.

However, over the past few decades, it has been found that the molecule is actually beneficial for patients with diabetes because it improves blood flow. Although this relationship to MS remains unclear, researchers previously suggested that the factor increases the delivery of zinc to red blood cells.

The results of the study showed that out of the 86 MS patients, there were more peptides that bound to blood cells than to those of the 75 other neurological patients or the control group. Furthermore, the blood test was able to accurately identify MS patients in 98.3% of the cases, with an 89.5% chance of ruling out the disease.

Current methods for diagnosing MS remains slow, with most individuals waiting between 6 months to 2 years before being officially diagnosed. Starting treatment early is crucial for MS patients, since current therapies can only slow disease progression, according to MS News Today. Authors noted that the findings need to be confirmed in larger, more in-depth studies.

They are currently working with regulatory agencies to design a larger validation study to try and bring the test closer to clinical use.

“The pilot study demonstrates the potential of C-peptide binding … as a possible test to assist in the diagnosis of MS, and has the advantages of being minimally invasive, employing widely available reagents, and rapid return of results,” researchers wrote, as reported by MS News Today.