MSA Trust

Professor Henry Houlden

Professor Henry Houlden

Identification of Longitudinal Biomarkers in Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)

Henry Houlden, Professor of Neurology and Neurogenetics, The National Hospital for Neurology and UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London.

The mechanism that causes the death of brain cell in MSA is not known, but we know that the accumulation of an abnormal protein called alpha-synuclein in one type of brain cell is the hallmark of MSA. In this project we plan to study different molecules that are part of the processes involved in causing MSA. The identification of accumulation or lack of such molecules can be used to find more reliable and earlier diagnosis or to assess response to treatment.

We will initially measure the abundance or the lack of these molecules from the fluid that surrounds the brain from MSA patients and compare them with normal healthy controls and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Identifying markers in easily accessible fluids and validating in blood samples will potentially reveal important clues on the cause of MSA and in combination with clinical and imaging analysis improve our ability to diagnose MSA early, monitor progression and response to treatment trials. This approach is complementary with the research of our MSA Trust fellow, will be important for MSA patients and for many other degenerative conditions in the future.

Professor Houlden comments on this study and the increased support we have offered to the Prospect study:

“MSA is scientifically a difficult disorder to understand. Although patients are all clinically similar and the brain abnormalities have specific characteristics, to date we have limited understanding of how MSA occurs and how to halt its progression.

Our research focusses on MSA risk discovery, developing markers of disease and working with companies to develop treatments, such as the hopeful Biogen anti-synuclein antibody trial that we hope will start in 2019.

As many patients, I see know, our flagship project is to develop a bioresource for everyone to enable biomarker and therapy discovery and assaying the abnormal proteins in MSA patients blood and spinal fluid.

In addition, we wish to enrol every MSA patient in the Genomics England Genome sequencing project to understand the small genetic risk factors that exist in MSA that may give clues to disease pathways.”

Please also check out the information on the Prospect-M study that MSA Trust have committed to supporting financially for a further 5 years and you can take part in.





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