Sugar and MS: New biomarker for progressive disease gives hope for new therapies and identification of high-risk individuals.
A condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, approximately 130,000 people in the UK are currently living with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. This condition can cause a wide range of symptoms, the number and severity of which will vary from person to person. Common symptoms include fatigue, cognitive issues, blurred vision and mobility problems.
There are three types of MS disease course. They are categorised as relapse-remitting, secondary progressive and primary progressive. The range of therapies available to treat the condition is dependent on disease severity and its progression.
The primary progressive form of MS
Sadly, those with the primary progressive form of MS (PPMS) are often left with few treatment options as condition acts differently from its relapse remitting and secondary progressive forms. There are signs of hope for those thousands of people diagnosed with PPMS today however, thanks to a team of scientists who have identified a biomarker that could be to blame for speeding up progression and causing disability to subsequently decline.
With primary progressive MS, the individual experiences no periods of remission. Instead, they face a progressive disability which escalates over a period of time. There are currently a limited number of treatments designed to slow down the effects of the condition. Finding the simple sugar N-acetylglucosamine (known as GlcNAc for short) biomarker means that new treatments can be developed to halt disease progression.
What does this new research mean?
Research has shown significantly lower concentrations of N-acetylglucosamine in the blood serum of primary progressive patients than there are in healthy people or those with relapsing-remitting MS. These findings also provide potential new avenues to identify which patients are at higher risk of progressive MS earlier than is currently possible. They also give clinical teams the opportunity to adjust their treatment plans accordingly.
Led by the team at UC Irvine researchers found that animals passed on the simple sugar, which is also contained in human breast milk, to their offspring.
Many sufferers of MS see a progression in disability due to damaged myelin (a protective nerve coating) that can cause a plethora of central nervous system issues and neurodegeneration, therefore the primary myelination and the repair of damaged myelin by the N-acetylglucosamine is a leap towards finding an effective new treatment for those with primary progressive MS.
Further studies are still underway to test GlcNAc’s possible efficacy as an MS therapy, but many members of the MS community are already excited about potential new treatment developments following on from these findings with the hope of an improved quality of life and slower disease progression.
When to consider specialist live-in care?
Depending on the type of MS you have, it is possible to live a normal, largely symptom-free life for many years. There is no cure for MS, so it’s essential to adopt positive lifestyle habits to help slow the speed of the disease’s progression.
Searching for a suitable live in home care provider can be time-consuming and stressful, as you’ll want to make sure you choose the right carer. If you’d like to discuss your situation, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.