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Gladstone researchers find ‘kick-start’ of multiple sclerosis

*note: video describes how multiple sclerosis is currently diagnosed. Wednesday's published paper is going to change all this.

To understand how important a find this is, one needs to comprehend that millions of MS sufferers didn’t even know they had the disease until damage had already been done.
Geoffrey Whiteway/Stock Vault

Last year’s research done by Gladstone Institute Investigator Katerina Akassaglou, Ph.D. and her team had revealed an important start in the beginning stages of multiple sclerosis (MS) and Wednesday’s paper shows what they did with those discoveries.

They were able to show, last year, that MS begins with the break down of the blood brain barrier (BBB); it physically separates from blood circulation thereby allowing fibrogen to seep into the brain.

The protein thrombin then coverts fibrogen into fibren, a fibrous substance, formed in the coagulation of the blood, and, since fibren aren’t suppose to be in the brain; it triggers the body’s immune response.

The researchers continued to build upon this discovery and were able to develop “a fluorescently labeled probe specifically designed to track thrombin” and discovered not only it being active in the beginning stages of the disease but that it also interconnected with the severity of MS.

To understand how important a find this is, one needs to try to comprehend that MS sufferers, each and every single one, didn’t even know they had the disease until damage had already been done.

[Get free email subscription to Lima Multiple Sclerosis Examiner to receive news and updates [click here].

Dr. Akassaglou stated, “We already knew that the buildup of fibrin appears early in the development of MS—both in animal models and in human patients, so we wondered whether thrombin activity could in turn serve as an early marker of disease. In fact, we were able to detect thrombin activity even in our animal models even before they exhibited any of the disease’s neurological signs.”

“…even before they exhibited any of the disease’s neurological signs.” The feeling of awe in that statement cannot be overstated.

Using a type of molecular probe that delivers florescent agents to a particular area of the body, an Activatable Cell-Penetrating Peptide (ACPP), they analyzed the stages thrombin showed itself and “specific disease ‘hot-spots,’ regions where neuronal damage developed over time,” said Gladstone Staff Research Scientist Dimitrios Davalos, Ph.D.

Like a one-two punch, these scientists not only proved thrombin-specific probes can be used in early disease detection, they are also able to show thrombin activity is directly tied to the ruin of the myelin sheath.

They essentially were able to take people to the beginning of MS - when it takes its baby steps into our brains.

For more info: for those who live in Lima, Ohio, the Northwestern Ohio MS Chapter can be reached at: 401 Tomahawk Drive, Maumee, OH at (419) 897-7263. They are located approximately an hour and a half from Lima, Ohio and 45 minutes from Findlay, Ohio. For directions please click here at Google Maps

More articles about the blood brain barrier:

Opening of blood brain barrier and why it is an important MS finding (2011)

Blood brain barrier created in a laboratory dish (2012)

Multiple Sclerosis Community Support:

  • MS World ~ “We've come together from around the world to help each other cope with the challenges of living with Multiple Sclerosis.”
  • Patients like Me ~ “Our Promise PatientsLikeMe is committed to putting patients first. We do this by providing a better, more effective way for you to share your real-world health experiences in order to help yourself, other patients like you and organizations that focus on your conditions.”
  • Med Help, Multiple Sclerosis ~ “Today, MedHelp empowers over 12 million people each month to take control over their health and find answers to their medical questions. MedHelp, a privately-funded company, has over 16 years of accumulated information from doctors and other patients across hundreds of conditions. In addition, MedHelp has long-standing partnerships with the top medical institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, National Jewish, Partners Health, and Mount Sinai. MedHelp's audience, archives, and partnerships make it a unique health destination on the Internet.”

Sources:;; Institutes, G. (2013, December 5). "Innovative approach in animal models could one day serve as early indicator of multiple sclerosis." Medical News Today. Retrieved from

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