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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Spring 2019

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RESEARCH RESEARCH ROUND UP SUE SHAPLAND RN, BN, MSCN GENERAL MANAGER STRATEGIC SUPPORTS AND RESIDENTIAL OPTIONS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS NEWS TODAY MS progression’s speed tagged to ‘smoldering’ brain inflammation Researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) identified that the presence of chronic active lesions in the brain may provide a clue as to how quickly MS symptoms will progress. They called these lesions “smoldering inflammation” and their study, published in JAMA Neurology, indicates the more lesions you have, the more likely your MS will be aggressive. These lesions, described as “dark rimmed spots,” are difficult to see and the researchers used a superstrong MRI scanner to look for them. Of the 192 people with MS in this study, 56 percent had at least one rimmed lesion, and 44 percent had rimless lesions. Lesions were present in both the brains of those receiving a disease-modifying therapy (DMT) and in those not being treated with a DMT. Researchers reviewed MRI images from over 10 years or longer for a small subset of the study group. They found that their rimless lesions generally shrank over the decade, but lesions with rims either grew or remained the same size. Daniel S. Reich PhD, senior investigator at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said: “Our results support the idea that chronic active lesions are very damaging to the brain. We need to attack these lesions as early as possible. The fact that these lesions are present in patients who are receiving anti-inflammatory drugs that quiet the body’s immune system also suggests that the field of MS research may want to focus on new treatments that target the brain’s unique immune system — especially a type of brain cell called microglia.” Read more multiplesclerosisnews ms-progression-speed-tagged-tosmoldering-brain-inflammation Specific fats in cerebrospinal fluid of MS patients may be telling markers of disease A study has suggested that testing for the types of fat (lipid) molecules present in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of people with MS may be a very useful way to diagnose and monitor the disease. Researchers identified that “MS patients present a different lipid profile at the time of diagnosis” than people without this disease, and that difference is “statistically significant.” Data showed that the cerebral spinal fluid of MS patients differed in “statistically significant” ways from controls in 155 lipid species, 47 of which were identified: 30 glycerolipids, five sterol lipids, four fatty acids (FAs), five glycerophospholipids, and three sphingolipids. Further analysis supported the existence of a “specific lipidomic signature”; a specific pattern of lipid types and levels that was able to discriminate (with 70% accuracy) between MS patients at diagnosis and non-MS patients. “The description of the CSF lipidomic profile at the time of diagnosis could help better understand the physiopathology of MS in early stages, to define the role of lipid metabolism in disease progression and to propose new biomarkers for monitoring the disease,” and be useful in identifying new treatments. Read more multiplesclerosisnews 8

HERE WE PROVIDE SUMMARIES OF RESEARCH SOURCED FROM WEBSITES IN AUSTRALIA AND AROUND THE WORLD. READ MORE AT MSWA.ORG.AU/RESEARCHUPDATE Research underway on the Space Station looking at cellular triggers of MS and Parkinson’s disease An ongoing experiment at the International Space Station may help identify triggers for MS and Parkinson’s disease by studying how nerve cells and immune cells interact when exposed to microgravity. Using patient-derived cells, researchers will study the way nerve cells grow, survive, and change their gene activity/expression due to gravity. Knowledge gained is expected to help scientists understand how nerve and immune brain cells interact with each other and in ways that damage the nervous system, leading to neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers stated these cells are hard to study in a lab because of the way gravity influences them. “The cool part is now we can do it in space!” NASA is interested in how spaceflight changes the immune system as some astronauts experience strange effects, including a temporary reactivation of dormant, or ’sleeping’ viruses. To understand why this happens, researchers are focusing on brain cells involved in Parkinson’s and MS. In both diseases, damage to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is thought to happen due to flaws in a person’s immune system. Researchers will watch remotely how the nerve cells behave and when the cells return to Earth; their shape, arrangement, and gene expression will be examined to see the effects of microgravity and space radiation. It is hoped that the findings could ultimately help scientists identify new ways to treat MS and Parkinson’s disease, as well as ways of better protecting astronauts in space. Read more multiplesclerosisnews space-station-cell-study-seekscauses-of-major-diseases MS RESEARCH AUSTRALIA Diet during adolescence linked to MS risk A study led by Associate Professor Ingrid van der Mei, from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research in Tasmania, with groups from Italy and Iran, investigated the link between diet in adolescence and MS. Five hundred and forty-seven people with MS and 1057 people without MS, were asked about their diet during their adolescent years, including frequency and portion sizes. Information was collected on intake of meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and dietary supplements. The researchers found people with MS had consumed lower amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, fruits and vegetables during adolescence. They also found that people with MS reported lower use of dietary supplements, particularly vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin C, fish oil and folic acid. The research findings showed that a higher intake of foods that are considered healthy during adolescence is linked to a lower risk of MS. This research highlights the importance of having a diet consisting of a range of fresh foods and minimal processed foods. It also brings us a step closer to an evidence-based approach to modifying a lifestyle factor for reducing the risk of MS. Read more continued over page 9