Greetings from the ACTRIMS Forum 2018! This 3-day meeting brings together almost 1,000 MS-focused health care professionals, such as researchers and neurologists, and lets them share their latest research findings. I wanted to share with you a few of the amazing things I’ve learned so far at this inspiring meeting.
There are plenty of lectures from experts who were invited to review the latest research on specific topics. Then there are also presentations by investigators who submitted summaries of their results to the meeting organizers, for possible acceptance as either lectures or as posters. I happen to love poster sessions. Kind of like a science fair, you can go up to researchers and their posters and talk to them about their work...
Nervous system repair is getting a lot of attention this week in Barcelona at ECTRIMS, the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS, where 9,000 experts in MS have gathered to share research ideas and results. When I was working in the lab as a neuroscientist not so many years ago, the idea of a therapy with the capability to repair the nervous system seemed very far away. Today, we have a better understanding of factors that control the body’s natural repair mechanisms, and closer than ever to potential repair therapies.
In fact, there are several experimental strategies actually in clinical trials right now. Repair trials underway include a trial testing clemastine, an oral antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms; an antibody called rHIgM22, which was well tolerated in one study in people with all types of MS; and a monoclonal antibody called anti-LINGO that also has shown positive results in a phase 2 study in people with a first episode of optic neuritis.
People affected by MS sometimes ask me: “It’s great that they found another gene that is linked to MS, but what does it mean for me?” Well, the genetics research I’ve heard about at this week’s ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS meeting has given me great answers.
Dr. David Hafler (Yale University) launched the discussion when he delivered the keynote lecture during the opening ceremony. Dr. Hafler and others founded the International MS Genetics Consortium, a team that has turned MS genetics on its ear...
In my former career as a neuroscientist, I studied synapses ― nerve connectors that permit nerve cells to pass electrical or chemical signals to another cell. I learned how important it was to understand how the nervous system functions normally, before you can figure out what goes wrong during the course of a disease.
If we are going to repair damage to the myelin casings that protect nerve connections in MS, we have to know everything possible about the biology of how myelin is normally made. That means studying the cells that make myelin, the genes that instruct them, the molecules they interact with, and the proteins they make. This requires the whole scientific community working together – and that’s what happens at the Myelin Gordon Research Conference, which I recently attended in Ventura, CA...