Progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by progression of clinical symptoms independent of clinical relapses.

There are still no treatments for progressive MS due to the difficulty in finding a specific biomarker (measurable indicator) of progression and difficulty in designing an appropriate model of clinical trial.

In fact, few biomarkers of progressive MS are sensitive to change within the two-year time frame of a clinical trial. For these reasons, researchers from all over the world are looking for new biomarkers of disease, which would be also able to recognize progression of MS in a reasonable time (ideally within the two-year time of a clinical trial).

Chemical changes

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that appears very promising to achieve this goal. It is sensitive to chemical changes within the brain, which are related to neuronal damage, and is not invasive.

Particularly encouraging are the results from a Canadian team who used magnetic resonance spectroscopy in secondary progressive MS patients.

They analyzed 47 patients at baseline and annually for two years. Their findings showed a decrease of two substances in the brain, glutamate and glutamine, over two years. This suggests they are promising new biomarkers of MS disease progression.

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