IL7-R and IL2-R
“Alleles of IL2RA and IL7RA and those in the HLA locus are identified as heritable risk factors for multiple sclerosis.”
It’s been almost seven years since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was Paul, a physician friend, who broke the news to me. I don’t remember a whole lot after the “It’s MS” part; but I must have asked him how or why because I do recollect: ” It’s not your fault. You didn’t get MS because of something you did or didn’t do.”
In the weeks and months that followed, I read every book, journal article, and web page I could find containing the words multiple+sclerosis. I held on to Paul’s counsel, although in the back of my mind I believed there had to be some explanation, a cause or a set of circumstances–anything that could help me make sense of things. What I came to realize was that MS is a set of mysteries within a bigger set of mysteries within yet another set of mysteries.
Early diagnosis is a key factor in treating the course of the disease, but MS can be a very difficult disease to diagnose. I was one of the lucky ones and received a remarkably quick diagnosis, but only after a bunch of MRIs, a lumbar puncture, nerve conduction tests, and dozens of blood draws for lab work. A speedy diagnosis means that disease-modifying drugs can be introduced in the early stages of MS. Nothing cures MS, but the big ABC drugs (Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone) have shown to reduce exacerbations in relasping-remitting MS (RRMS) and slow down disease progression. For some folks, however, it can take years to get a diagnosis, which means they miss out on that optimal treatment window of opportunity.
The IMSC study is big. By identifying the genetic markers of MS, the probability of an early diagnosis gets a boost. It could also lead to new treatments and therapies. PDL BioPharma and Biogen Idec are already testing the monoclonal antibody “daclizumab“–an antibody that targets interleukin-2 receptor alpha (IL2-R). Clinical trials are now underway to determine if the drug Zenapax (Roche Pharmaceuticals) is a viable option for MS patients.
The findings of the IMSC study have pushed researchers a giant step closer to cracking the mysterious code of multiple sclerosis and how it can be treated or even perhaps prevented altogether. For MS patients and their families and caregivers, the findings help to answer some of the why and how questions.
More on this to come…