One of the advantages of working for 25 years in a research and clinical laboratory is having the opportunity to observe the evolution of a test assay from a crude and nonspecific to a pure and specific level. Between 1975 and 1980, we started our testing in relation to antibodies to CNS antigens with antibrain antibodies using a section of the mammalian brain and immunofluorescent examinations. Due to many false positive results, we began looking for a more specific assay for detecting antibodies against different components of nervous system antigens. Due to advancements in biochemistry, affinity purification, and the development of enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) in the early 1980s, detection of antibodies against pure antigens such as myelin basic protein (MBP), myelin associated glycoprotein (MAG), myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), ganglioside, sulfatide, glutamate receptor, tubulin, and neurofilaments (NFT) became possible in our laboratory.
During the past 10 years, thanks to genetic engineering and recombinant antigens, different encephalitogenic peptides became available and are used in our assays. These recombinant antigens and peptides did not only render the antibody assays specific but helped us to investigate the source of antibodies and to understand the mechanisms behind the root causes underlying autoimmune reactions to antigens of the nervous system. © 2005 Taylor and Francis, an imprint of the Taylor and Francis Group.