MS Society Heralds 2014 as a Year Of Great Progress in Multiple Sclerosis Research

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2014 was a year of major progress in research for treating and curing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

This year the National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports that the organization invested over $50 million into 380 new and ongoing research initiatives and projects for MS. The Society remains highly committed to pursuing promising research opportunities that could lead to new insights into how to treat the disease and stop its progression. In particular, the organization remains focused on supporting research involving the treatment of progressive MS types (which have major unmet medical needs), nervous system repair, and wellness/lifestyle improvement for those with the disease.

Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable disease. It is a disabling condition that affects the central nervous system and stops the information flow within the brain and between the brain and the body. Symptoms can vary from numbness and tingling to blindness and ultimately paralysis. The progress and the severity of MS symptoms cannot be predicted — they depend on each person’s condition and characteristics. However, advances in research and new treatments are bringing the medical community closer to a cure. Most of the MS patients worldwide are diagnosed between their 20s and 50s, and there are 2 to 3 more women diagnosed with the disease than men. Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.3 million people around the world.

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The National MS Society supported numerous projects regarding multiple sclerosis. Here are some examples of MS research and development from 2014:

Projects for halting the progression of MS:

  • Distinguishing good and bad types of macrophages (read more);
  • Using  Plegridy™ and Lemtrada™ in relapsing MS;
  • Launch of a multicenter study regarding differences between African Americans’ MS patients and Caucasians (read more);
  • MS Outcome Assessments Consortium data on 16,000 patients to develop new tools to measure effectiveness of MS treatments in clinical trials.

Projects Addressing the unmet medical needs for treating progressive forms of MS:

  • Phase II study with simvastatin for secondary-progressive MS patients (read more);
  • Vitamin D study found that it can help predicting disease activity and progression (read more);
  • 22 research grants to study progressive MS by the International Progressive MS Alliance;
  • Phase II trial of ibudilast for progressive MS (read more);
  • Clinical trial for progressive MS by Innate Immunotherapeutics.

Projects Improving Lifestyle and Wellness for Those with MS:

  • Gut bacteria can help to modulate immune attacks (read more);
  • Smoking increase the risk of getting MS and to see the disease progress (read more).
  • Treating sleep disorders to improve MS patients lives (read more);
  • Cases of depression in women with MS (read more);
  • Induce movement therapy to the weaker limbs (read more);
  • Memory training to improve learning (read more);
  • Salsa dancing program to improve balance in gait;
  • Wellness Strategy Meeting to improve knowledge on diet, exercise and for psychology accompaniment.

Nervous System and Myelin Repair Research & Drug Development for MS:

  • Phase I trial to study mesenchymal stem cells and it properties (read more);
  • Phase I of Biogen Idec’s BIIB033 whose goal was repair myelin (read more);
  • A study that might help treating many disorders through myelin repair and by testing several FDA-approved compounds (read more);
  • Phase I for secondary-progressive MS using stem cells derived from placenta (read more);
  • Stem cells induced to become myelin-making cells (read more);
  • Cannabis-like approach to treat MS spasticity.

Toward an MS Cure:

  • Genomic research regarding MS disease;
  • Identification of more that 150 genetic variations related with MS (read more);
  • Project to understand how small changes in some genes can lead to MS and other immune diseases (read more).

The National MS Society mobilizes resources and people to drive investigation and research projects for a cure to the disease. Through the National MS Society and its services, more than 1 million people suffering with the disease were aided by information and resources to help them live their lives to the fullest.

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Isaura Santos graduated with a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and a MA in Communication, Culture and Information Technologies from University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL). Her professional interests include science communication, public awareness of science and communication of science through entertainment.
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