#MSVirtual2020 – Meeting Focus Is on Advances in MS Research, Diagnostics, and Technology

Marta Figueiredo, PhD avatar

by Marta Figueiredo, PhD |

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The upcoming MSVirtual2020 meeting, the largest international conference dedicated to multiple sclerosis (MS) research, will focus on advances and breakthroughs made in MS causes and risk factors, diagnostic tools, treatment response biomarkers, technology, and therapies and interventions.

The 8th joint meeting of the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) and European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) will be held virtually Sept. 11–13.

The meeting also will include a special encore event on Sept. 26 with a “Late Breaking News” session — featuring presentation of new, high-impact MS research — and a special COVID-19 session focused on the pandemic’s effects on MS.

Hosted every three years, the joint ACTRIMS/ECTRIMS meeting brings together world-class neurologists, clinicians, and researchers in the field of MS from around the world to present and discuss latest research and therapeutic advances.

The key topics of this year’s meeting, according to an ACTRIMS press release, are:

  • Cutting-edge research into MS causes — ranging from genetic and epigenetic factors to complex immune- or disease-related pathways, which help inform therapy development — and environmental and lifestyle risk factors. (Epigenetics refers to chemical modifications in DNA that can turn genes on or off without altering the actual DNA sequence, or gene codes.)
  • Advances in brain imaging and machine learning approaches and how these techniques can help us better understand MS. (Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms to analyze data, learn from its analyses, and then make a prediction about something.)
  • Disease activity and treatment response biomarkers, which are critical for the future of personalized medicine in MS.
  • Latest findings on gut microbiota and the gut-brain axis in MS. The gut microbiota is a vast community of friendly bacteria, fungi, and viruses that colonize the gastrointestinal tract. It helps to maintain a balanced gut function, protect against disease-causing organisms, and influence the host’s immune system and inflammatory responses, which may contribute to MS development or progression.
  • Data from recent clinical trials of new therapies and interventions, innovations in symptomatic and rehabilitative therapy, and current research on the impact of COVID-19 in MS.

The opening presentation of the meeting on Sept. 11 will be given by Helen Tremlett, PhD; her presentation is titled The MS prodrome.” Frauke Zipp, MD, is another keynote speaker responsible for the closing presentation of the meeting, on Sept.13, titled “New insights on immunopathogenesis.”

Since 2020 has been designated the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, MSVirtual2020 also will include two Nurses’ Sessions presented by leaders of the International Organization of MS Nurses.

The sessions will focus on advanced nursing activities in MS, such as integrative and pediatric care, and unique contributions of MS nursing, including in best practices and guidelines.

The MSVirtual2020 program at a glance is available here.

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