MS Society research communication manager David Schley has taken to Twitter to talk about what the society is doing to stop multiple sclerosis in its tracks.
In his Tweet, Dr Schley wrote:
We now know enough about what goes wrong in MS to know what needs to be done to fix it.
Scientists are working on three ways to tackle MS: stopping the immune damage, promoting myelin repair and protecting nerves from damage.
We’re not there yet, but we believe that if we achieve these goals then we can stop MS.
When myelin becomes damaged, messages find it harder to get through – or can’t get through at all. That’s what causes the symptoms of MS.
Step 1: stop the damage in its tracks
To stop MS early we need to prevent our immune system damaging myelin.
There has been incredible progress in this area of research, and we now have 12 available disease modifying therapies (DMTs) for relapsing MS that help do this.
Researchers are also testing the benefits of stem cell transplantation (HSCT), which aims to stop the immune system attacking myelin.
We’re starting to see progress in immune system research for progressive MS as well. Last year a treatment called ocrelizumab was shown to slow progression in primary progressive MS. And the latest results for the drug siponimod look promising for secondary progressive MS too. But these drugs can’t help if permanent damage has already been done.
Right now, we’re funding nine projects that look at the role immune cells play in MS.
Step 2: repair myelin
Our bodies have an amazing capacity to repair myelin and get nerves working properly again. But this repair becomes less effective over time and doesn’t work as well as it should in MS.
Every discovery brings new opportunities for us to develop myelin repair treatments – and these could be effective for everyone with MS.
Step 3: protect nerves from damage
We need to make sure that our nerves are happy, healthy and protected from damage. And this is even more important when myelin isn’t around.
Researchers are using their knowledge of nerves to design new ways to keep them alive and healthy. They’re aiming to find treatments that can prevent nerve loss, which could slow or stop the progression of MS.
We’re funding seven projects to help us on our way to having neuroprotective treatments for MS.
Two things stand out for me in all this. First is the amount of work being funded by the UK’s MS Society and, second, that Dr Schley used Twitter to make his point.
* * * * *
50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.