The process of diagnosing and monitoring the progression of MS in an individual usually involves expensive neuroimaging (such as MRI scans) or other tests in specialist centres. Biomarkers, for example a molecule that can be measured via a simple blood test, would be valuable to track a person’s clinical outcomes and response to therapies. A biomarker in the blood would potentially allow for earlier treatment since it could be implemented more easily and regularly than current imaging tests. Biomarkers can also be used in clinical trials to measure the effect of new treatments.
Associate Professor Buckland’s project will investigate the possibility of using extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the blood as biomarkers for MS. Extracellular (meaning outside the cell), membrane bound vesicles (tiny sacs or bags that come from the surface of the cell) are shed by many cells in the body and can be found in most biological fluids. They are generally classified into three groups based on their size and mechanism of release from the cell: exosomes, microparticles, and apoptotic bodies. Exosomes are between 50-100nm in size and carry distinct membrane proteins. Exosomes contain proteins, DNA and RNA (an intermediate copy of DNA that regulates the activity of genes). Exosomes are normally present in the blood, and their levels increase significantly in a variety of inflammatory disorders.
This project will conduct the first unbiased assessment of a specific type of RNA, known as small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) in extracellular vesicles from people with MS and compare these with healthy controls.
Updated: 10 July 2015
Updated: 04 January, 2015