Measuring Disease Activity in People with Radiologically Isolated Syndrome
Year Awarded: 2022
Term: 3 years
Funding Amount: $300,000
Affiliation(s): St. Michael’s Hospital
Researcher(s): Dr. Raphael Schneider
Impact Goal(s): Understand and Halt Disease Progression
- People with radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) present with characteristic lesions seen in MS, but without having the typical MS symptoms. Since many people with RIS eventually develop MS, RIS can be thought of as a pre-symptomatic MS or a very early stage of MS.
- As part of this research study, Dr. Schneider and team will identify the immune cells present in the blood of people with RIS and the corresponding immune cell activation that could promote nerve damage characteristic of MS.
- By characterizing the immune composition of the blood of people with RIS, clinicians and researchers will better understand the early immunological processes of MS and potentially identify people at high risk of developing MS by identifying disease markers through a simple blood test.
Radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) describes a situation where a person without typical MS symptoms has a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of their brain, revealing the characteristic lesions seen in people with MS. While people with RIS are at high risk of developing MS, the process underlying the conversion from RIS to MS is not completely understood. To better understand this process, this research will study the immune mechanisms underlying RIS that lead to MS onset and will help identify novel prognostic biomarkers for people with RIS. At St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Schneider and team have established one of the largest RIS cohorts in the world. Using MRI and novel cutting-edge technologies (i.e., cytometry by time of flight (CyTOF), flow cytometry, ultra-sensitive single molecule arrays), the team will identify the immune cells present in the blood of people with RIS and the corresponding immune cell activation that could promote nerve damage characteristic of MS. By following people with RIS over a few years, the team will be able to thoroughly study MS before symptom onset.
By characterizing the immune cell composition of the blood in people with RIS, researchers aim to identify new prognostic biomarkers of MS disease to better identify people at high risk of developing MS. If successful, clinicians and researchers could use a simple blood test to assess an individual’s risk of MS onset. Findings from this research will also provide important insights into the mechanisms underlying MS onset, which may provide a foundation for new therapeutic strategies to prevent MS symptoms.
Project Status: Ongoing