MS Misdiagnosed In NMO Patients

Research undertaken by Mayo Clinic have shown that many patients who suffer from Neuromyelitis Optica or NMO are often misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The findings were shared in a gathering of the world’s leading medical specialists at the 2009 NMO Roundtable Conference.

NMO is a rare but potentially debilitating diseases that attacks both the optic nerve and the spinal cord. This can cause vision loss and other sensory problems to paralysis in the arms and the legs. The said conference, which was sponsored by the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation brought together many of the world’s leading medical experts to try and find a cure for this rare disease.

According to Dr. Sean Pittock, MD and Mayo Clinic neurologist, many patients are often misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis due largely to the general lack of awareness of NMO. Dr. Pittock based the findings on research still ongoing at the Mayo Clinic. 1,200 blood samples were analyzed at the Mayo Clinic neuroimmunology lab for NMO antibody testing every month. Around 70 patients tested positive for NMO, surprisingly high for such a rare disease. Dr. Pittock also found out that a majority of those who tested positive for NMO were also previously thought to have multiple sclerosis.

Since both diseases are known to be both inflammatory and demyelinating diseases. The common misdiagnosis was due to the fact that most doctors were not that aware of NMO and a sufficient means to identify the said disease until now. Mayo Clinic has recently also discovered of a new NMO antibody that is the first biomarker that has shown to be sensitive and specific for any inflammatory and demyelinating disease in the central nervous system.

With the discovery of the said biomarker, doctors are now more able to differentiate between NMO and multiple sclerosis, with its importance lying on the basis that each disorder needs to be treated differently. This will help improve the means for neurologists to make a correct diagnosis of NMO instead of MS.


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