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Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation

Dr Thomas Thum



Dr Thomas Thum received his medical training at the Hannover Medical School in Germany and did a PhD at Imperial College London in 2008.


He trained in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at Julius-Maximilian’s University of Würzburg in Germany from 2004 to 2009.


In 2009, Dr Thum became Professor and Director of the Institute of Molecular and Translational Therapeutic Strategies, where he coordinates multiple approaches to better diagnose and treat various diseases using non-coding RNA molecules.


Development of an innovative microRNA-based kit for the detection and prognostic evaluation of patients with multiple sclerosis


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system with suspected autoimmune aetiology. We previously evaluated whether microRNAs (miRNAs) are differentially regulated in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with MS. miRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression and serve as promising therapeutic targets in many diseases. However, miRNAs are also present in biological fluids and may be of use as disease biomarkers. Indeed, after global miRNA profiling, we quantitatively confirmed specific miRNA patterns to be differentially regulated in patients with MS compared with other neurological diseases. Importantly, miRNA patterns differentiated relapsing–remitting from secondary progressive MS courses. 


The results of our study contribute to the new avenue of miRNA biology in MS and provide the rationale for larger MS cohort studies that are certainly needed to further confirm our preliminary results of regulated CSF-based miRNAs. Thus, we will now validate our initial findings of deregulated miRNA patterns in the CSF of up to 1000 patients with MS based on a multicentre approach. Four neurological study centres in Germany (Hannover, Bochum, Rostock and Ulm) will work together with the organizing miRNA Diagnostic Center at the Institute of Molecular and Translational Therapeutic Strategies (IMTTS) at Hannover Medical School. The consortium is supported by the Hannover Universal Biobank (HUB) and the Hannover Center for Biometry. Our aim is to develop a specific kit for diagnosis of MS and its subgroups within the funding period.


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