Clinical, Diagnostic Biomarkers, Pathogenesis

Investigation of inflammatory triggers and antigen-specific immunity in multiple system atrophy subtypes

MSA is a devastating and incurable disease of unknown cause. No specific diagnostic tests for MSA are currently available, and diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms following clinical consensus guidelines. Early and reliable diagnosis of MSA is crucial but remains problematic as differentiating parkinsonian conditions during the initial disease phase remains difficult.

Recent research has shown that immune-related responses happen very early in MSA. Environmental exposure to inflammatory agents can trigger an unwanted immune response, potentially aggravating the onset or the progression of MSA. These immune changes can be measured in body fluids and the identification of novel immune-related biomarkers would potentially provide objective tools for an early diagnosis of MSA.

This clinical research project will determine the immune-specific fingerprint of MSA patients and focus on the discovery of body fluid biomarkers. The novelty of this project lies within the combination of techniques that allow the detection of antigen-specific immunity coupled with the identification of environmental exposure to infectious viral pathogens.

Additionally, as different subtypes of MSA might represent unique biological mechanisms, immune- related changes could be subtype-specific. By performing unbiased and omics-based clinical discovery of immune-related biomarkers this project will group and investigate novel biomarkers based on different disease subtypes (MSA-P and MSA-C) and examine how inflammatory changes can impact disease. Altogether, this research project will improve our understanding of how MSA might arise and identify new biomarkers with the overall aim to provide novel disease management options that improve patient’s quality of life.