Results of a recent study showed that an antibody found in the blood of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) may be present long before the disease and its symptoms appear.

The study compared 16 healthy blood donors with a later diagnosis of MS to 16 healthy blood donors of the same age and sex who did not develop MS. Researchers looked for a specific antibody to KIR4.1 protein. Samples were collected between 2 and 9 months before the first symptoms of MS appeared. Researchers also looked at antibody levels in the blood at additional time points up to 6 years earlier and then again after disease onset in patients with the KIR4.1 antibody in their blood.

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Data showed all of the healthy controls tested negative for the KIR4.1 antibody. In patients who later developed MS, 7 patients tested positive for the antibodies and 2 showed borderline activity. The KIR4.1 antibodies were found in patients with pre-clinical MS several years before the first clinical attack.

Researchers are working to confirm these findings in larger populations and determine how many years before disease onset the antibody response develops.

The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting.

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