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In a paper published in Nature Neuroscience, the Fugger Group describe molecular pathways of MS neurodegeneration in unprecedented detail.

© Colin Behrens/Pixabay

Progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common autoimmune disease characterised by neurodegeneration of the central nervous system. Despite progress in characterising the disease, MS is currently without effective treatments to tackle disease progression.

A new paper published in Nature Neuroscience provides a detailed picture of the molecular pathways altered in MS, tracking more than 4000 gene/protein pairings across stages of MS disease progression using spatial transcriptomics and proteomics.

Speaking to Nature Reviews Neurology, Professor Lars Fugger, leader of the Oxford Centre for Neuroinflammation at the MRC Human Immunology Unit  and lead author of the study said ‘'Spatial transcriptomics is a novel technique that can detect the expression of thousands of genes with spatial resolution directly in the tissue. Thus, it becomes possible to combine the structural detail of microscopy with high-dimensional measurements to capture complex disease pathways.'

By locating expression in the tissue and simultaneously measuring that gene expression, researchers were able to identify signals that could contribute to disease progression, and those that could represent potential therapeutic targets. By identifying protein and RNA expression changes in disease and highlighting those found in tissues affected in MS, the researchers created a prioritisation list for future drug targets.

Read the full paper online at Nature Neuroscience.