Somerville scientists are the driving force behind a powerful new diagnostic test developed in partnership with numares, leaders in the field of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, which will aid early detection and treatment of the more debilitating, secondary phase of Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis is the world’s most common autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system, affecting over 2.3 million people worldwide or 1 in every 500 people in the UK. The key to improving the lives of the millions of people affected by MS is early diagnosis, as this can pave the way for preventing relapses and limiting the physical, neurological and psychiatric symptoms of the disease. Until now, accurate diagnosis has been hampered by the relapsing-remitting trajectory (RRMS) that affects about 85% of patients, making diagnosis difficult and preventing doctors from slowing or preventing the transition to “secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS)”.

This breakthrough test will have a significant impact on the care of individuals living with MS.

Professor Daniel Anthony

In 2021, however, the picture for MS sufferers is changing thanks to the ground-breaking research conducted by Professor Daniel Anthony’s Experimental Neuropathology Laboratory in conjunction with numares. The Oxford team, which also includes Somerville’s Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, Dr Fay Probert, has validated a new set of biomarkers for detecting the transition from RRMS (Rapidly Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis) to SPMS (Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis). These biomarkers will be used in conjunction with numares’ proprietary AXINON® IVD System, to combine relevant biomarkers into “biomarker constellations” via multi-marker algorithms, forming the basis for an urgently needed in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) test that will detect disease progression earlier and thus improve patient management and outcome.

Speaking of the newly agreed partnership in his capacity as lead scientist, Professor Anthony commented, “We are very pleased to have such an experienced industrial partner in numares to commercialize our research findings as a breakthrough test, which enables early detection of the transition from RRMS stage to SPMS stage for the first time. This will have a significant impact on the care of individuals living with MS. The test opens up the possibility to monitor the condition more closely and thus improve therapeutic decision-making.”

Volker Pfahlert, CEO of numares, added, “Our mission is to improve patient care by providing better diagnostic tools to help physicians better manage their patients. This fruitful collaboration with Oxford researchers gets us closer to our mutual goal to bring first class research to the bedside of MS patients.”

The partnership between numares and Oxford University represents another shining example of the growing impact of Oxford’s innovation ecosystem in the wider world. Further exciting uses for multi-marker diagnostics await, with an agreement between numares and Oxford University Innovation to extend this diagnostic method to the field of Alzheimer’s disease. 

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