Identification of four new autoantibody targets
Specific autoantibodies cause severe central nervous system (CNS) diseases including neuromyelitis optica and encephalitis. Although rare, these conditions can lead to permanent disability but are treatable with immunotherapies after an accurate diagnosis of the autoantibodies. Hence, these are widely considered "not-to-miss" neurological and psychiatric conditions.
Research by our Autoimmune Neurology Group (OANG) has identified four new autoantibody targets and developed and refined diagnostic tests which have become the gold standard. The OANG now performs about 20,000 tests annually for UK patient care. Many of these have been evaluated in large multinational studies, leading to changes in laboratory practices across multiple international testing centres. This greater diagnostic accuracy has improved the worldwide clinical identification of patients who respond to immunotherapies and prevented others from receiving inappropriate, potentially harmful, immunotherapies.
Research by OANG also identified clinical features that facilitate early diagnosis and treatment, enabling prompt deployment of immunotherapies that lead to improved outcomes, and major industry investments in clinical trials.