Progressive MS Focus of EMSP Virtual Meeting Open to All Starting Today

Patricia Inacio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inacio, PhD |

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Progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) is the focus of the 2020 virtual European Multiple Sclerosis Platform (EMSP) annual meeting that runs though Friday, Nov. 20.

Registration is free for the two-day conference. Those interested in participating can register here.

According to a EMSP press release, topics to be discussed include the most recent advances in research into progressive MS, current rehabilitation trends across Europe for people with progressive MS, as well as the emotional and workplace challenges confronting those living with this disease form.

MS, a complex autoimmune disease that leads to neurodegeneration, is estimated to affect over one million Europeans. Its progressive onset form, called primary progressive MS, affects up to 15% of patients. This form is characterized by a steady worsening over time of neurological function, without signs of relapse or remission (when the symptoms get worse but then get better).

While other forms of MS — such as relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) — have been the focus of many  research studies, progressive MS has been more challenging and has few therapies under clinical development.

The causes of progressive MS are yet not well understood, making it harder to develop new treatments. Moreover, clinical trials for investigational therapies are costly and require long periods of testing to assess effectiveness in this patient population. Their length, cost, and uncertainty in regard to likely outcomes are often cited as reasons that discourage investment.

With a focus on “Understanding Progressive MS,” the 2020 EMSP meeting aims to raise awareness about the current challenges facing patients and researchers studying the progressive form of the disease.

EMSP is composed of 43 member organizations from 37 European countries, and has over 30 years of expertise working in MS. This platform calls for an increase in investment for research in order to boost the understanding of progressive MS.

The meeting will bring together more than 350 patients, patient organizations, healthcare professionals, as well as researchers, public health experts, and local and European level policymakers. Advances in both research and practical knowledge about progressive MS are part of the conference program, which runs today until 3 p.m. (15:00) and Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. (16:00) Central European Time.

The opening session includes the talk, “Progressive MS or progressing MS? Why does it matter?” This address will be co-delivered by Jacobo Santamarta-Barral, a board member of the Spanish Association of MS (called AEDEM-COCEMFE), together with Emma Rogan, associated with campaigning and external engagement at EMSP, and Christiane Tihon, secretary general for the Belgian National MS Society.

This will be followed by a talk by Mar Tintore, a clinical coordinator at the neurology-neuroimmunology department MS Centre of Catalonia (Cemcat), at the Hospital Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona, titled, “Highlights on Research in Progressive MS.”

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