Roche’s Elecsys Neurofilament Light Chain (NfL) test for multiple sclerosis (MS) received Breakthrough Device Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

The Elecsys NfL test is intended to be used as an aid in detection of disease activity in adults (18-55 years old) with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), providing critical insights for disease management.   

“Around 2.8 million people are estimated to live with multiple sclerosis(1). After diagnosis, many face challenges with managing their disease due to significant gaps in access to testing. This can lead to missed opportunities to detect disease progression in support of treatment optimization,” says Matt Sause, CEO of Roche Diagnostics. “We are excited about the potential Elecsys NfL has to improve outcomes for MS patients by offering a minimally invasive blood draw that can deliver rapid results.”

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Approximately 85% of MS cases are RRMS patients.(2) The majority of people diagnosed with RRMS eventually transition to SPMS, in which neurologic function worsens over time and disability increases. For patients with RRMS and SPMS, detection of disease activity is critically important in enabling them and their physicians to make the best possible decisions for the management of the disease. 

Although the current spotlight for NfL’s intended use is multiple sclerosis, increases in NfL concentrations have been reported in individuals with other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases and in indications beyond neurology. 

Elecsys NfL has the potential to help laboratories to scale MS testing on widely available, fully automated and standardized Roche cobas instruments with the confidence of in-vitro diagnostics quality, in a timely manner, according to Roche.

In July 2022, the FDA also granted Breakthrough Device Designation to Roche’s Elecsys Amyloid Plasma Panel, a new solution to enable Alzheimer’s disease to be detected earlier. Elecsys NfL receiving this designation is an important step as the organization strengthens its diagnostics neurology portfolio to meet growing societal needs.

About Elecsys NfL 

Neurofilament Light Chain (NfL) is an abundant protein exclusively present in neurons and a sensitive indicator of neuroaxonal damage. Under normal conditions, NfL is released at low level from axons; however, this rate increases with age and following neuroaxonal damage. 

Therefore, abnormal, elevated levels of NfL can be detected in cerebrospinal fluid and blood in various acute and chronic neurological disorders. Although the current spotlight for NfL’s intended use is multiple sclerosis, increases in NfL concentrations have been reported in individuals with traumatic brain injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases,(3) but also in other indications beyond neurology.

Featured image: Roche’s Elecsys Neurofilament Light Chain (NfL) test can be run on the cobas e 801 instrument. Photo: Roche


  1. Walton C, King R, Rechtman L, et al. Rising prevalence of multiple sclerosis worldwide: Insights from the Atlas of MS, third edition. Mult Scler. 2020 Dec; 26 (14):1816-1821
  2. MS Society [Internet; cited 2023, Oct 25]
  3. Mayo Clinic. [Internet; cited 2023, Oct 25]