Challenges of Targeting Cytokines in MS: Stephanie Blandford, MSc


The PhD candidate at the neuroimmunology laboratory at Memorial University of Newfoundland discussed the potential of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist as a biomarker in MS disability as well as a therapeutic target.

“The problem with targeting cytokines and cytokine receptors for treatment options is that they have a lot to do with the balance between the factors that cause damage, and those that cause damage to be resolved.”

Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) may be a useful biomarker for predicting disability in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent study presented at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2021, February 25-27. 

Study presenter Stephanie Blandford, MSc, PhD candidate, Neuroimmunology Laboratory, Health Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and colleagues found that, independent of variables such as age, sex, disease-modifying therapy or previous relapse activity, plasma IL-1RA levels were correlated with expanded disability status scale score. They also found cerebrospinal fluid IL-1RA to be significantly correlated with neurofilament light levels.

NeurologyLive spoke with Blandford about the potential of IL-1RA as a treatment for MS inflammation as well as its utility as a biomarker for disability. She discussed the little-understood intertwined processes of cytokines that make it difficult to target them without affecting other processes in the body.

For more coverage of ACTRIMS Forum 2021, click here.

Blandford SN, Galloway D, Williams JB, et al. Il-1 receptor antagonist: A novel soluble biomarker that correlates with disability and neurofilament light in multiple sclerosis. Presented at ACTRIMS Annual Forum; February 25-27, 2021. Abstract P019.
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