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Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation

Professor Daniel Anthony

Professor Daniel Anthony joined the Pharmacology Department at the University of Oxford in 2004 and established the Experimental Neuropathology Laboratory, which seeks to identify how the host immune response contributes to the outcome of acute and chronic neuropathologies. As part of this endeavour, we have pioneered the use of NMR-based metabolomics for identifying the presence of CNS disease with very high sensitivity and specificity.  Previously, he was a Glaxo-sponsored PhD student in the Department of Surgery, University College London where he worked on the role of metalloproteinases in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (1990-1994). Following the completion of his PhD in 1994, Dr Anthony joined Professor Hugh Perry, then in Oxford, on a British Biotech Fellowship investigating metalloproteinase expression in the CNS. It was during this period that he became interested in the leukocyte-mediated mechanisms of neurodegeneration. He then moved to a faculty position at the University of Southampton (1998-2004), where he was a Lecturer in Neurobiology before returning to Oxford. Professor Anthony is also a Fellow of Somerville College and holds honorary Professorial positions at the University of Lille and the University of Southern Denmark. Professor Anthony has generated over 150 publications on the neurobiology of inflammation with long-established collaborators in Oxford in Neurology (Jackie Palace), Oncology (Nicola Sibson and Len Seymour), Chemistry (Ben Davis) Cardiology (Robin Choudhury), and Psychiatry (Phil Burnet). We also have MS-focused collaborations with Turku, Finland (Laura Airas); Odense, Denmark (Bente Finsen); and Johns Hopkins, USA (Norman Haughey, Lipidomics); and Augusta, USA (isolated perfused vessels). 

 

GMSI project description:

 

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy analysis of plasma; a novel, highly sensitive method for monitoring the development and predicting progression in multiple sclerosis

 

Current disease modifying treatments for MS are most effective when administered in the early stages of MS; the effect of most treatments on disability during the progressive phase of the disease, when the majority of functional loss has already accrued, is limited. The transition from relapsing remitting (RR) to secondary progressive (SP) MS is subtle and often difficult to diagnose at onset. Whilst an array of investigations (such as MRI and repeated clinical evaluation) is used to assist experienced clinicians in accurately staging MS, ultimately the diagnosis is based on subjective judgement. The conversion from RRMS to SPMS is known to be the key determinant of long-term clinical outcome, so its prevention/delay has become the primary therapeutic challenge.

 

We aim to build on our collective experience gained over the last 10 years to generate a highly sensitive and specific assay to diagnose, stage and monitor MS. By combining NMR with advanced multivariate statistical techniques, we will monitor the transition from the initial neurological presentation of MS, clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), to RRMS. We will identify prognostic markers in early disease to predict which individuals are at the highest risk of conversion from CIS to RR MS. Further testing will then assess the accuracy and speed of this technique in discerning SPMS from RRMS relative to existing diagnostic tools. Finally, we will acquire preliminary data to determine whether our NMR-based approach can be used to monitor the impact of treatments on conversion and progression.

 

Ultimately, by providing a reliable method to monitor disease progression and the effect of DMTs, this work has significant potential to improve clinical outcome for patients with MS, allowing the most appropriate therapy to be selected and administered as early as possible.

 

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