Metabolon, Inc., has been awarded a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify disease biomarkers for multiple sclerosis.
MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system by destroying myelin, the protective fatty tissue covering nerve fibers. Without myelin, nerves are unable to transmit signals to and from the brain. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million people worldwide are affected by MS, with more than 400,000 diagnosed in the United States each year.
"Multiple sclerosis is the most common neurological disease disabling young adults in the United States," said Dr. John Ryals, president and CEO of Metabolon. "Using metabolomics, we hope to find biomarkers that will determine a cause for the disease and that can be used to create a definitive diagnostic tool for MS."
There is currently no known cause of MS, but evidence indicates that it is a complex disease resulting from a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, such as heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
In this study, blood samples from a group of patients diagnosed with MS and exposed to environmental factors will be compared with blood samples taken from a group of healthy subjects exposed to similar conditions.
Metabolon scientists will analyze the samples to identify disease biomarkers that indicate a metabolic difference between the two subject groups. Results from this study could potentially lead to more effective diagnostics and treatments for the disease.