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Nov 8, 2012

Developing a New Blood Test for Multiple Sclerosis

  • DioGenix formed an alliance with Fast Forward, a subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, to develop a novel blood test for multiple sclerosis (MS). Fast Forward will provide up to $500,000 as part of a Sponsored Research Agreement that will enable DioGenix to expand an ongoing clinical trial of its MS diagnostic, MSPrecise™, a next-generation sequencing assay that measures changes to the adaptive immune system by analyzing B cells isolated from cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). This funding will allow DioGenix to determine if the same approach will work in blood samples. The new partnership follows just a few weeks after Fast Forward formed a collaboration with Ezose Sciences to identify multiple sclerosis biomarkers. 

    The ability to accurately identify early disease events affecting the adaptive immune system with next-generation sequencing provides an opportunity for an earlier diagnosis of MS and differentiation of disease subtypes. DioGenix says validation of a DNA blood signature for MS is an important next step in the firm’s plan to develop a neuro-immune panel that would distinguish other immune-mediated neurological diseases that share certain biological features with MS.

    “Our collaboration with Fast Forward will allow us to more rapidly develop new tests that can have a profound impact on the lives of people living with MS,” says Larry Tiffany, CEO, DioGenix. “With this important funding, we can extend the utility of our already reliable CSF-based MSPrecise assay into blood, providing an additional option for the use of our test by clinicians as part of their routine work-up of patients who are struggling with nonspecific neurological symptoms.”

    “Even with improving imaging capabilities we are still challenged to more specifically correlate MRI findings and symptoms to actual disease biology,” notes Lawrence Steinman, M.D., professor of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine. “B cells are integral to early disease mechanisms in MS and other neurological diseases. Technologies to elucidate immunoglobulin DNA rearrangement in the B cell genome involved in specific immune-mediated neurological diseases will be critical for understanding and treating patients.”

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