A test for MS...Are we there yet?

Wow you said a new study that shows a simple test that can detect MS,

Hailing from “Gods own Country”,  I thought I would Investigate

The local Huddersfield rag (Newspaper) says

 “They have worked out how it can be detected using a simple blood test - up to now the only way to diagnose the disease has been through an invasive and often painful process of collecting fluid from the brain and spine”.

So already you know the newspaper is already talking rubbish and giving you visions of needles in the head. 

A lumbar puncture is not the typical diagnostic test these days and it is certainly not diagnostic as many conditions have oligoclonal bands. Importantly let’s not forget the good old magnetic resonance imaging machine for spotting those lesions. This is far more diagnostic.

Michael I. Page MI, McHugh P, Powles NT. Sphingosine and dihydrosphingosine as biomarkers for multiple sclerosis identified by metabolomic profiling using coupled UPLC-MS. Analytical Methods 2017.

The project aim was to identify differences in the metabolomic profiles in the serum of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), those with neuropathic pain (NP) and those with both MS and NP compared with controls and to identify potential biomarkers of each disease state. Metabolomic profiling was performed using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and the data analysis involved parametric methods, principal component analysis, and discriminating filter analysis to determine the differences between disease and control serum samples. Sphingosine and dihydrosphingosine were identified as significant biomarkers.

Apparently they found that "Sphingosine"  a lipid that makes spingosine-1 phosphate and "dihydrosphingosine" involved in ceramide production, which are Sphingolipids, are reduced in the blood. 

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In comparing Bloods from 30 people with MS verses 60 controls showed that Sphingosine levels were significantly lower in the multiple sclerosis groups compared with the control group giving p =  6.06 x 10*10. The control group had a mean peak area of 18, 990
±   6,286 (12,704-25,276). The multiple sclerosis groups had mean peak areas of 9, 535 ± 3,032 (6,503-12,567)for multiple sclerosis and 11 254 ± 3,863 (8,791-16, 117) for multiple sclerosis with neuropathic pain.

Similarly, the dihydrosphingosine levels were signicantly lower in the multiple sclerosis groups compared with the control group with p = 4.89 x  10*6 . The control group had a mean peak area of 7,723 ± 2,345, whereas the multiple sclerosis groups had mean peak areas of 4,936 ± 1, 389  for MS and 5,904 ± 1,581, respectively. Further studies will also need to be done with other controls.

It is therefore evident that there is not 100% specificity and 100% sensitivity to detect every one with MS and exclude people who don't have MS. Therefore, it will not be absolutely diagnostic. 

However, I would ask what are the biological processes that account for this? It is hard to think of anything that would be specific for multiple sclerosis as many of the pathological processes can occur in other conditions.

The Work is published in a local Newspaper on work from a Local University...So I doubt the breakthrough is really a breakthrough as it would be picked up by more media.