New study will explore the role of metabolic pathways in MS progression

Human brain.

By Kara Sweet

Published July 6, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A new study funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Research Program of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command will explore the role of metabolic pathways on the progression of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis (MS).


The project, titled “The Metabolomics-Neurofilaments-Neurodegeneration Nexus in Multiple Sclerosis Progression,” is led by Murali Ramanathan, professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and professor of neurology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo (UB). Research partners include Richard Browne, professor in the Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and Robert Zivadinov, professor of neurology, both from the Jacobs School, and Rachael Hageman Blair, associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Aiming to slow disease progression

Metabolic pathways, which supply energy and provide structural building blocks for the cell, are critically important for healthy immune and neuronal functions in the central nervous system. Impaired metabolic pathways may trigger neurodegeneration or brain tissue loss and disease progression in MS.

“The drugs approved for treating MS primarily block inflammation and don’t do a good job of slowing the irreversible loss of nerve tissue that is strongly linked to MS disease progression and disability,” Ramanathan says.

The research study will, over the course of five years, determine if metabolic changes precede the changes in serum neurofilament levels (a protein in the blood released from damaged nerves that reflects neurodegeneration) and MRI measures of neurodegenerative injury in the brain of MS patients.

The project findings have the potential be leveraged for developing diet, lifestyle and pharmaceutical intervention strategies for preventing progression and improving outcomes for relapsing-remitting and progressive MS patients.

For over 130 years, the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has continually been a leader in the education of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, renowned for innovation in clinical practice and research. The school is accredited by the American Council of Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) and is the No. 1 ranked school of pharmacy in New York State and No. 14 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.