Scientists find two types of multiple sclerosis

Stanford University researchers have discovered two types of multiple sclerosis, which may explain why treatment doesn't always work.

Now this could explain why the beta-interferon drug used to treat multiple sclerosis patients only works in half of them. Plus a third of them endure flu-like symptoms from the treatment. There are two types of multiple sclerosis, which are different based on the T-cell activity in the body. If a new diagnostic test could check for TH-17 levels, it could determine if beta-interferon would work on the patient even before treatment.

After looking at mice and human samples, Stanford University School of Medicine found that:

  • When animals had TH-17, the drugs only made their condition worse. The animals developed worse paralysis.
  • But with levels of the other type called TH-1, the animals got better. They threw away the crutches, the researcher explained.

Similar results were seen in humans. If the TH-17 levels were high, they did not respond to beta-interferon treatment. The people with low levels of TH-17 responded well to the drug.

CNN reports:

"By making these distinctions in large human studies, people with multiple sclerosis might someday be able to take a simple blood test to see whether they are likely to respond to treatment with the standard multiple-sclerosis therapy." says senior study author Lawrence Steinman, M.D. of the Neurology and Neurological Sciences Department at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Nature Medicine gives the exclusive:

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