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Progress and Challenges in MS research – Reflections on ECTRIMS 2013

Blog Summary

Why did 8,000 MS scientists and physicians travel thousands of miles and devote a week outside of their labs and offices to attend the 2013 ECTRIMS meeting that just took place in Copenhagen?  The bottom line is that connecting with other scientists to share ideas, communicate new findings and even learn what’s not working is the lifeblood of science and it’s what stimulates faster progress. Meetings like this are vital to spurring new approaches and uncovering promising leads – more about that later.   During the week attendees heard about cutting-edge research that addresses virtually every aspect of the challenge to stop MS in its tracks, restore function, and end MS forever. My National MS Society colleagues blogged on some of the exciting progress toward protecting and repairing the nervous system, maximizing rehabilitation and exercise therapy, and discovering risk factors that may worsen MS or increase the likelihood of developing it. And scientist/journalist and person living with MS, Dr. Julie Stachowiak, shared personal reflections on new research about children in MS families, teens with MS, driving, exercise, shared decision making, and some emotional issues that can occur in people with MS.

Moving forward on progressive MS

Blog Summary

Hardly a day goes by when I am not asked the tough question, “When will there be a therapy for my kind of MS?” The people asking this question are talking of course about the type of MS that doesn’t wax and wane, but instead creeps slowly or quickly along, robbing a person of crucial abilities and quality of life. These are big issues but we are making progress. In the last couple weeks we’ve seen the launch of two new clinical trials that are aiming to stop nervous system damage in people with progressive forms of MS. These trials try to address a seriously unmet need for treatments that can stop or reverse worsening of symptoms.

Solving a complex disease requires a comprehensive strategy

Blog Summary

I just visited MSConnection.org, the online community of the Society, and I was struck by something that I also hear as I meet people with MS around the country. This is a complex disease. More than 80 online discussions are posted about symptoms – and they’re all different topics: “Arm pain,” “Shaky,” “Numbness in fingers,” “Restless leg syndrome”…the list goes on.   This is why a comprehensive approach to research is so essential – we need to find lots of different therapies that can stop the disease, but we also need to find other intervention options that can improve the symptoms that affect people with MS. That’s why we’re supporting 50 studies addressing symptoms, exercise and rehabilitation, with the goal to improve mobility, fatigue, strength, walking, spasticity, cardio fitness, cognition, and preventing falls. And to enhance research in this area, we have a special training program for rehabilitation research.