Advances in MS Research and Treatment Focus of ECTRIMS 2016, Opening in September

Özge Özkaya, PhD avatar

by Özge Özkaya, PhD |

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More than 8,000 researchers and clinicians with expertise in the field of multiple sclerosis will be gathering in London next month for the 32nd annual European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis, best known as ECTRIMS.

Over 2,000 abstracts will be presented in the 61 sessions planned for this year’s congress, set for Sept. 14–17. The sessions will be grouped around five topics: imaging, where 213 abstracts will be discussed; immunomodulation and immunosuppression, the topic of 195 abstracts; clinical assessment tools, 102 abstracts; long-term treatment monitoring, 91 abstracts; and risk management for disease modifying treatments, 87 abstracts.

“We have seen huge advances in MS research in recent years and the implications from new potential therapy options, alongside new imaging techniques and mechanism of action could have profound effects on improving treatment and care for patients,” Professor David Miller, vice president and chair of ECTRIMS’ Scientific Committee, said in a press release. “I would encourage anyone in MS research or clinical practice to attend the congress, as it is vital we mobilize the community and share our understanding to drive forward research across Europe and the globe.”

In the sessions, speakers will look at improvements in imaging techniques, like MRI, OCT, and PET, that allow better monitoring of treatments and disease progression. Data about recent advances in imaging neuroprotection and repair in MS will be presented.

Participants will also explore new therapies that modulate immune response, since immune system-mediated tissue damage and mitochondrial dysfunction are emerging as two mechanisms that seem to cause MS. In this context, results of a new immune therapy approach using B-cell depletion currently in clinical trials will be presented. The benefits of this type of approach for patients with primary progressive MS and relapsing-remitting MS will be explored in a special session.

Progressive MS, which is the most disabling form of the disease, is an international priority as there are currently no effective treatments. The special session, ‘New directions in progressive MS research’ will focus on ways to improve diagnosis, monitor disease progression, and advance clinical research for people with this form of MS.

A hot-topic session will explore data regarding a new approach in the initial treatment of early active relapsing-remitting MS, using a potent therapy instead of standard immunomodulation to treat the condition before it begins to progress.

Two keynote presentations include parallel sessions, one on the effects of long-term treatments and the other on the long-term disease outcomes. Together, these sessions will present data from 12 studies, some drawn from MS registries, examining prognostic markers, treatment effects, and clinical outcomes over time frames spanning up to 15 years.

Finally, there will be a special session outlining developments in rehabilitation and symptomatic treatments aimed at improving symptom management and disability led by the nonprofit group Rehabilitation in MS (RIMS), a conference organizer.

ECTRIMS is the largest independent Europe-wide professional organization dedicated to the understanding and treatment of MS. Its mission is to enhance research by creating networking and collaboration opportunities between scientists and clinicians working in the field, with the ultimate aim of improving basic and clinical research and providing benefits for people affected by MS.

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