“To me the best part of working at the Tisch MS research center is the close association with the clinic. This unique interaction and the access to clinical samples, defines our research approach and its relevance to MS.” - Dr. Fozia Mir, Assistant Research Scientist
Dr. Fozia Mir joined the laboratory in March 2011, and is investigating oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in multiple sclerosis (MS). There is growing evidence of the involvement of oxidative stress to brain damage in multiple sclerosis (MS). Lipids (fats) are the most abundant component of the brain and comprise about 70 to 85% of the dry mass of the myelin. Under conditions of oxidative stress, free radical production is increased which leads to lipid peroxidation – breakdown of the lipids. The brain is very vulnerable to damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and has very low levels of anti-oxidants that defend us against oxidative stress. Dr. Mir’s work published in the journal Neuology Neuroimmunology Neuroinflammation (2014), has identified a novel biomarker for measuring oxidative stress in the brain.
This work has demonstrated that the ROS generated lipid peroxidation product – 8-isoprostane, increases in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of MS patients. Furthermore, the elevated levels of this lipid peroxidation marker were found to correlate with increased oxidative stress in MS patients. A long-term study is currently underway to determine the CSF isoprostane levels in MS patients with different disease modifying therapies. Thus if correlation of CSF isoprostane levels with therapeutic response is demonstrated, 8-isoprostane would have utility as a biomarker of treatment efficacy in MS.
In addition to studying the role of oxidative stress in MS, Dr. Mir and her team, which includes Zerina Balic (BA from NYU ’16), are also using metabolomics to identify new potential therapeutic targets in MS. Metabolomics is the study of all the chemical end products in our bodies and can be used to identify the unique chemical fingerprints that disease processes leave behind. The results may assist with diagnosis of patients as well as understanding new disease mechanisms. The initial results from the metabolomics screen of progressive MS patients were presented recently at the ACTRIMS/ECTRIMS in 2014 in Boston.
Dr. Mir also has a longstanding interest in elucidating the role of lipids like thromboxane A2, in regulating brain cell function and viability in the brain under normal and stress/disease states. She is utilizing a mouse model to investigate the role played by thromboxane A2 in the maintenance and elaboration of myelin during MS.
Before joining the Tisch MS research team, Dr. Mir worked as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She received her Ph.D. in Laboratory Medicine from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India and did her postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois, Chicago.