University Hospital Vrije: discovery of biomarkers

Discovery of biomarkers reflecting progression pathophysiology for primary progressive MS subtype by applying next generation sequencing and novel multiplex aptamer approach

Principal Investigator: Charlotte Teunissen, Ph.D.
Institution: University Hospital Vrije Universisteit-VUMC
Country: The Netherlands
Amount Awarded: €74,250

MS, whether relapsing-remitting or primary progressive, progresses differently in different people, suggesting that disease progression occurs for different reasons in different people. Early in the disease it is difficult to predict the course that any individual will experience, which makes it difficult to determine optimal treatment approaches. This group proposes to investigate blood samples from people with different subtypes of MS to identify disease activity and potential biomarkers – or molecular signatures — that will differentiate relapsing-remitting from primary-progressive MS. They also aim to find ways to discriminate between people who have slow versus rapid progression. Identifying biomarkers that identify the underlying disease activity responsible for a person’s disease course will allow prediction of the response to therapy and new targets for novel therapies.

What does this mean for people living with progressive MS?

Having reliable biomarkers would greatly increase the ability to determine the best therapy for an individual, and offer clues to the underlying causes of MS progression.

Project Update

Status: Complete

This group investigated blood samples from people with different types of MS to identify disease activity and potential biomarkers — or molecular signatures — that will differentiate relapsing-remitting from primary- progressive MS, and identify what distinguishes slow versus rapid progression. To date, the sequencing of plasma samples of the initial sample group has been finalized and one potential marker that differentiates between  slow and rapid disease progression and a group of potential markers that differentiates between relapsing onset and healthy controls have been identified. Additional analysis and validation is planned.

Principle Investigator: Charlotte Teunissen

Charlotte Teunissen

Charlotte Teunissen, PhD, has focused on body fluid biomarkers for neurodegenerative disease and other neurological diseases since the start of her PhD thesis in 1997 at Maastricht University in The Netherlands. Her subsequent postdoctoral research fellowship was at the MS Center at the VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, and since 2009 she has been the head of the Neurochemistry Laboratory and Biobank at the VU University Medical Center. She is the initiator and general manager of the NeuroUnit Biomarkers (NUBIN) at VUMC and the BioMS-EU network. She led the development of several international consensus guidelines for spinal fluid biobanking (which served as templates for similar initiatives), and recent criteria and definitions for control group selection for spinal fluid biomarker studies. Her research group focuses on identifying novel biomarkers, primarily by proteomics, and developing and validating tests for these biomarkers for their ultimate use in clinical practice.

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