According to a new study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), researchers have pinpointed an approach that may help categorize multiple sclerosis (MS) into two meaningful subsets. Researchers note that this ability could potentially assist in treatment development.

The results indicate that the MS patient population can be devided into two groups that exhibit differing levels of disease activity, explains Phillip De Jager, MD, PhD, BWH department of neurology, senior study author. 

During the study, De Jager and his team reportedly extracted RNA from blood cells of MS patients. Once the samples had been analyzed, researchers note that they observed distinct sets of RNA molecules among the patient samples. The sets formed a transcriptional signature that categorized MS patients as MSa patients and MSb patients. The study suggests that those in the MSa group exhibited a greater risk for future MS relapse. Knowing which subset an MS patient is in may ultimately assist doctors in making more informed treatment decisions, researchers add.

“These results motivate us to improve these distinctions with further research so that we may reach our goal of identifying the best treatment for each individual who has multiple sclerosis,” De Jager says. However De Jager and his team remain cautious about their findings, noting that while the study is a key step toward personalized medicine in MS, further research is necessary in order to understand under which circumstances and in which combination with other information the transcriptional signature may become useful in a clinical setting.

Source: BWH