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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Winter 18

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Interpretation: Siponimod reduced the risk of disability progression with a safety profile similar to that of other S1P modulators and is likely to be a useful treatment for SPMS. From MSIF: Japanese study could improve understanding of autoimmune process in MS New research indicates that miRNA, a genetic switch in the blood of people with MS, could help to explain how and why cells that suppress the immune system do not function correctly in MS. There are two ways that the immune system responds differently in MS. Firstly the T helper immune cells (Th1 and Th17), which normally respond to the presence of an infection in the body, begin to attack healthy cells. The second is that another type of immune cell, known as regulatory T cells, which normally suppress the actions of the T helper cells, are different in people with MS. The regulatory T cells are fewer in number and don’t work as well in MS. However, exactly how and why regulatory T cells are lower and behave differently in MS is not clear. Want to access research articles? Here are the places you can access up to date research articles relating to multiple sclerosis: • Vitality – Our monthly research focussed e-newsletter • Our website – • Right here as part of your Member magazine Bulletin. It includes great research articles and information every quarter. Just email if you would like any further information. Researchers from the National Centre of Neurology and Psychiatry in Japan examined the role of specific molecules – microRNAs – in MS. MicroRNAs are short sections of RNA, a DNA-like material which regulates the activity of genes within cells. They can act as gene switches, telling cells whether to use specific genes at any given time. Cells can excrete microRNAs in small packages known as exosomes, as a method of communication between cells. The researchers looked at the circulating exosomes in the blood of people with MS and compared these with samples taken from people without MS. They found that the exosomes taken from people with MS reduced the growth of regulatory T cells in a dish in the laboratory, whereas exosomes from people without MS had no effect. This important work identified that the let-7i microRNA, as well as these two molecules, act together to set up the differences seen in regulatory T cells in MS – one of the key autoimmune processes that leads to MS. This work offers valuable insights into an important mechanism that helps to keep autoimmune cells in check and how this mechanism can function incorrectly in MS. How to become involved in Multiple Sclerosis Research – the Australian MS Longitudinal Study The Australian MS Longitudinal Study started in 2001, and currently around 13% of people diagnosed with MS in Australia participate. The study involves research surveys conducted to help improve services, treatments and advocacy to increase the quality of life for people living with MS. To join in and include your voice in MS research, visit and download the information and consent forms, then email the completed form to To join, you must be at least 18 years old, living in Australia and be diagnosed with MS. PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST THE FLU SUE SHAPLAND RN, BN Protect yourselves and others An annual flu vaccination is recommended to reduce the chances of both catching and transmitting the flu. This is especially important for those at risk of complications arising from influenza, and those in close contact with at-risk people. Influenza is highly contagious and spreads through coughing or sneezing virus droplets into the air. Others then breathe them in and become infected. It’s important to remember that touching contaminated surfaces (including hands) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes can also lead to infection. You can reduce the spread of the virus during flu season by practicing good household and personal hygiene, avoiding close contact with others if you or they are ill, and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. The bad news: 1. Flu viruses can survive an hour or more in enclosed environments, meaning contaminated respiratory secretions can be picked up even without someone coughing or sneezing near us. 2. Even before we show symptoms, we can be shedding the flu viruses, infecting others around us. 3. Flu viruses are characterised by constant evolution, this means they can pose a new threat every year. The good news: Protect yourself and others through cough and sneeze etiquette • turn away from others • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve • use tissues rather than a hankie • put used tissues in the nearest bin • wash your hands or use alcohol hand rub as soon as possible afterwards Hand washing is the single most effective way of killing the flu virus and limits the spread of the flu and other respiratory infections. Always wash your hands with soap and water or use alcoholbased products (gels, rinses, foams) that don’t require water, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose and before preparing food and eating. Stop the spread in your house: Flu viruses can survive more than eight hours on hard surfaces, clean frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and benches regularly. Flu viruses can be inactivated and removed with normal household detergents. Keep personal items such as towels, bedding and toothbrushes separate. Don’t share cutlery and crockery, food or drinks. Is it the flu or a cold? Colds affect the nose, the throat, and upper airways, and common symptoms include coughing, fever, sore throat, sneezing, blocked or runny nose and general congestion. They are caused by about 200 different viruses and there is no vaccine for a cold. Symptoms of a cold tend to be mild to moderately severe. The flu is a viral infection affecting your nose, throat and sometimes your lungs. Typical symptoms of flu include fever, sore throat and muscle aches. Both colds and flu can also lead to complications, such as pneumonia, which can sometimes lead to death. Check out the Health Direct website: https://www.healthdirect. If you are feeling concerned about any symptoms of a cold or flu, then see your doctor or call a locum after hours. Call Health Direct on 1800 022 222, to speak to a registered nurse; available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. 8 | MSWA BULLETIN WINTER 2018 MSWA BULLETIN WINTER 2018 | 9