Antibody Identified as Progressive MS Villain

Multiple sclerosis (MS) seems to only be a conversation amongst the white community but although it’s rare for blacks it actually hits them more severely. Researchers report an immune system molecule that attacks the protective shield around nerve cells appears to play a critical role in the most severe form of MS.

Unusually high levels of the molecule, an antibody to a major element of the myelin sheath around nerve cells, are found in patients with the rapidly moving, progressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS), Dr. Claude Genain reported today at the annual meeting of the American Neurological Association in New York City.

“We’re not sure, but it appears these antibodies could be causing the nerve damage, especially in this progressive form of MS,” says Genain, who is an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.

The target of the antibody attack is myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG). Research in several laboratories has shown the anti-MOG antibody destroys myelin in an animal model of MS, but its role in the nerve destruction that causes MS in humans has been unclear.

The disease can start with slow, “relapsing and remitting” destruction of nerve cells, or the more rapidly moving progressive form. Genain and his colleagues studied the levels of