#ECTRIMS2016 – Stay Up to Date with My Pick of Congress Highlights

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The show comes to town in the next week with ECTRIMS hosting what it describes as “the world’s largest annual international conference” devoted to basic treatment and clinical research in multiple sclerosis.

It is being held in London’s ExCel center from Wednesday to Saturday morning, and will be followed in the afternoon and on Sunday by MS Life.

ECTRIMS, the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis, has come a long way since it started holding congresses in 1996. Then, 800 delegates attended. This week, its 32nd congress is expected to attract 8,000 of the world’s most prominent clinical and research professionals, with 61 sessions and over two thousand abstracts presented.

This year’s program is so big that I cannot hope to give you a full rundown here, so I’ll just summarize what has caught my eye.

ECTRIMS is to look at MS research across long-term effects and prognosis, imaging techniques, B-cell depletion therapies, personalized care, immune response, and progressive MS.

ECTRIMSThe congress themes will be:

  • Understanding the mechanisms of disease progression
  • New research findings, including immune and mitochondrial abnormalities
  • Approaches to early treatment
  • Evolving approaches thanks to better understanding and personalized treatment
  • Long-term treatment effects and prognosis
  • New insights from registry and cohort studies
  • New directions in progressive MS research
  • High priority on international research
  • B-cell depletion therapies
  • First possibly effective treatment for primary progressive MS
  • Imaging, neuroprotection, and repair
  • Advances in MRI, OCT, and PET techniques

The most researched topics are imaging (213 abstracts), immunomodulation/immunosuppression (195), clinical assessment tools (102), long-term treatment monitoring (91), and risk management for disease modifying treatments (87).

Keynote presentations next week will include parallel sessions on “Insights to long-term treatment effects from MS registries and databases” and “Long-term outcome after presentation with a clinically isolated syndrome.”

Collectively, these two sessions will present data from 12 different studies examining long-term prognostic markers, treatment effects, and clinical outcomes, across timescales of up to 15 years. Another area of recent scientific research has focused on altering the initial treatment given people with early active relapsing-remitting MS, using a potent therapy instead of a standard immunomodulation prior to escalation.

Clinicians and researchers will explore data on the relative merits of new approaches and new drugs during hot-topic sessions.

It is good to see that one hot-topic session will look at B-cell mediated pathogenic mechanisms, and the effects of B-cell depletion therapies currently in clinical trials. The session will explore the role this type of therapy could play in the future for patients both with primary progressive MS and relapsing-remitting MS. Of course, as yet there remains no approved treatment for progressive MS — the most disabling form of the disease — so, quite rightly, finding such a therapy remains an international priority.

  • MS Life is organized by the UK’s Multiple Sclerosis Society. This is the biggest MS lifestyle event in Europe, and includes talks and workshops on everything MS. Symptoms, families, mental health, sex, and claiming benefits are among topics here — and admission is free.

Through this column I will be returning to both these events next week, to bring you my personal take on what is happening a daily basis.


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.

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Ian Franks is Managing Editor of the Columns division of BioNews Services. He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media; during which he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain and uses his skills to write his own flourishing specialist MS, Health & Disability blog at www.50shadesofsun.com. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.
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