MS News that Caught My Eye Last Week: A Genetic MS Link?, Spinal MRIs, MRI Payment Help, PPMS Study

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by Ed Tobias |

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Researchers Discover How Key Genetic Risk Factor for MS Operates

A genetic link to MS is something that some scientists have suspected for years. Now, there’s new research that targets a variation of a specific gene as possibly being that link.

Scientists have uncovered the molecular mechanism by which the genetic variant HLA-DRB1*15:01 is the strongest risk factor for multiple sclerosis, new research shows.

Analyzing several studies, researchers found that the risk linked with HLA-DRB1 variants is due to a specific DNA modification called methylation. Methylation is a process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule; it can change the activity of DNA, but not its sequence.


#EAN2018 – Both Brain and Spinal MRIs Needed to Monitor MS Inflammation, Study Says

Some neurologists order only a brain scan when an MRI is ordered for a long-term MS patient. That’s certainly true in my case. My neuro believes a spinal scan isn’t necessary because symptoms of progress will appear during a physical exam before they’ll appear on a spinal MRI. This study, however, suggests that it would probably be a good idea to scan the spinal cord as well as the brain during follow-up MRIs.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) used to assess inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients should include scans of the spinal cord and not be restricted to the brain, because brain scans alone risk underestimating disease progression, a study suggests.

These results were shared in the presentation, “Measuring disease activity in Multiple Sclerosis: do we need spinal cord MRI?” (abstract on page 71) given at the 4th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) that recently concluded in Lisbon.


MSAA Expands Financial Aid Fund for MRI Scans to Meet Growing Demand

MRIs can be a great diagnostic tool, but they’re not cheap. If you need help paying for one, here’s a place to turn.

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) announced that it will expand its MRI Access Fund to help meet the growing demand for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests within the multiple sclerosis (MS) community.

The fund is designed to help cover the costs of brain and spinal MRI scans for patients with no medical insurance, or with out-of-pocket expenses (co-pays) beyond their ability to pay. To qualify, the exam must be required by a physician to either diagnose MS or evaluate disease progression.


First Clinical Trial to Focus on Improving Hand Function in PPMS Patients Announced

I frequently read complaints from primary progressive patients that they’re the forgotten patients in the MS world. But here’s a clinical trial designed specifically for people with PPMS. It will investigate whether the disease-modifying therapy Ocrevus can improve the ability of PPMS patients to use their hands. (Open the full story and click “press release” for information about study sign-ups).

A new clinical trial will be the first in the world to recognize the importance of retaining hand function for wheelchair-bound patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS), according to a press release from Queen Mary University of London.

The international trial, which will be conducted by a research team from Queen Mary University of London, Barts Health NHS Trust, and Roche, will test if Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) can improve the ability of PPMS patients with advanced disability to use their hands.

Join our FORUMS to discuss the latest research and trials news!


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Reginald E. Bavis avatar

Reginald E. Bavis

I have primary Progessive m.s. And would like too try the new drug .



I have PPMS and am taking Ocrevus already. I would be willing to participate in a trial that is taking measurements to compare hand function before and after, although I have already had 2 treatments (the initial double treatment and one more) and am sceduled for my third later this year.



Hi Paul, I'm curious, how are you finding ocrevus? I mean is it beneficial. My neuro poo-pooed it and my own online research has found mixed results. I'm ppms too.

parisa avatar


I have secondary progressive MS for more than 26 years my EDSS is about 9 and almost have lost my hands abilities. may I take new medicine in regard to this point that I live in Iran. I am under a lot of depression and tired of my situation.
thanks a lot


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