Eye tracking device for monitoring MS severity approved in Canada

Health Canada has approved the commercial use of ETNA-MS, a software-based medical device that uses eye tracking to noninvasively measure disease severity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Short for Eye-Tracking Neurological Assessment for Multiple Sclerosis, ETNA-MS assesses disease severity based on a person’s eye movements. It’s intended for…

Two Studies Show IL-35 Protein’s Potential to Curb Inflammation in Autoimmune Diseases

An immune signaling protein called interleukin-35 has anti-inflammatory properties that scientists might harness to develop a therapy for multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders, according to two studies. Researchers at the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health discovered that a subunit of interleukin 35, which is also known as IL-35, significantly reduced inflammation in mouse models of eye inflammation and multiple sclerosis. Immune B-cells produce IL-35 to communicate with, and regulate the behavior of, surrounding cells. In a previous study, the research team found that the protein could inhibit inflammation in the eyes of animals with autoimmune uveitis, or inflammation of the inner layers of the eye. An autoimmune disease is one in which the immune system attacks healthy cells instead of invaders. A drawback of trying to use a synthetic version of IL-35 as a therapy is that it's difficult to produce because of its complex structure and it's unstable in a solution. Natural IL-35 is composed of two subunits, IL-12p35 and Ebi3, which bind to create the full protein. The team wondered if they could use a subunit, instead of the full protein, as an anti-inflammatory agent. Their study, “IL-12p35 induces expansion of IL-10 and IL-35-expressing regulatory B cells and ameliorates autoimmune disease,” was published in the journal Nature Communications, They demonstrated that the IL-12p35 subunit could generate anti-inflammatory effects similar to those of the full IL-35 protein. Giving IL-12p35 to mice with uveitis promoted the expansion of immune B-cells that counteract autoimmune responses, reversing the animals' eye symptoms. In the second study, researchers discovered that the subunit tempered inflammation in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Giving the animals IL-12p35 every other day for up to 12 days promoted immune cell proliferation that inhibited inflammation in the mice's brains and spinal cords, improving their symptoms. The research demonstrated IL-35 and its subunit's potential to treat nerve-inflammation disorders. The team published its findings in the journal Frontiers of Immunology. The article is titled “IL-12p35 inhibits neuroinflammation and ameliorates autoimmune encephalomyelitis.” The team is now looking at IL-12p35's ability to treat other degenerative eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.

Structural Eye Neurodegeneration Common Among MS Patients with Optic Neuritis, Danish Study Finds

Structural changes of the eye retina are a common feature among multiple sclerosis patients with a clinical history of optic neuritis, a Danish study finds. Loss of the myelin protective layer of optic nerve cells due to inflammation causes optic neuritis. About 20 percent of MS have it, and optic neuritis is a symptom of disease progression in about 40 percent of patients. In most cases, symptoms persist, leading to visual impairment or blindness, along with pain. Non-invasive optical coherence tomography can help evaluate neurodegeneration of optic nerve cells. This imaging technique allows a three-dimensional evaluation of internal eye structures, including the thickness of the retina nerve fiber layer. Previous studies have shown that MS patients may present progressive RNFL loss, but this can also be caused by optic neuritis. The use of OCT has been proposed to distinguish MS subtypes and evaluate disease activity. However, little clinical data is available to validate OCT's accuracy and potential as a diagnostic tool. To find out more, a Danish research team conducted a long-term evaluation of structural and functional visual outcomes in MS patients with and without a history of optic neuritis. Researchers observed that patients with a history of optic neuritis had significantly more RNFL thickness loss than those without optic neuritis. They linked reduced RNFL thickness with a 1.56 times higher risk of optic neuritis development. Nevertheless, the team did not find any association between optic neuritis and functional impairment of visual acuity or color vision. Use of high-resolution OCT devices coupled with up-do-date analysis software can improve the diagnostic efficacy of this imaging technique in MS patients, said researchers, who urged more studies to address the relevance of structural changes in MS.