2016 Multiple Sclerosis Forum to Focus on Distinctions in Disease Forms

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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Multiple sclerosis research forum

Dr. Jerry S. Wolinsky of the University of Texas in Houston, will give the first Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture at the opening day of the Americas Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2016 in New Orleans, focusing on distinctions between relapsing and progressive disease forms.

ACTRIMS is an American and Canadian community of leaders focused on multiple sclerosis research, treatment, and education. The forum, entitled Progressive MS: From Bench to Bedside and Back, is the first, standalone event organized by the committee for North American clinicians and researchers working with MS. It is set for Feb. 18–20, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency.

Dr. Wolinsky will discuss the boundaries between relapsing and progressive MS, a distinction he believes important to finding better therapeutic strategies.

“Recognition of the different forms of multiple sclerosis dates back to the earliest descriptions of the disease,” Dr. Wolinsky said in a news release. “By distinguishing between relapsing and progressive MS — in particular, the transition from early relapsing to secondary progressive MS — we hope to better understand and manage the progressive phase disease.”

Progressive MS is characterized by a gradual, steady progression of disability, leading to impaired vision and walking, pain, fatigue, incontinence, and cognitive changes. Patients with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) initially experience a relapsing-remitting MS phase (RRMS) of neurological dysfunction that evolves into a secondary progressive disease which,  typically, is less responsive to treatment.

A clear boundary between early RRMS and the progression to SPMS has not been established. Researchers have proposed that such a boundary might be seen by unraveling how relapses contribute to progression through a careful analysis of clinical attack-free patients with a “pure” form of progressive MS, or primary progressive MS (PPMS), a progressive form without distinct relapses or sudden attacks.

Dr. Wolinsky will focus on registration quality trials that may provide more insights into MS progression and how to manage the progressive phase of the disease, taking into account data obtained from smaller cohorts.

The Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture honors Dr. Johnson, who led the efforts to found ACTRIMS in 1996, by offering ACTRIMS audiences the opportunity to hear a prestigious researcher or clinician on his/her accomplishments and contributions to the MS field.

For more information about ACTRIMS Forum 2016, please visit the link.