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Gut Microbiome: Studying the links between people, bacteria, and MS

Our bodies are made of billions of cells. However, the cells in our bodies are far outnumbered by the bacteria that cover our skin and inhabit our gut. These bacteria are now increasingly recognized to have an important role in maintaining our health. For example, skin bacteria help protect us from more dangerous bacteria that could invade us. Gut bacteria help digest our food. There are suggestions that changes in these bacteria, particularly those in the gut, might play a role in several diseases.

2013 Heart & Stroke Walk

On October 26th the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association will be hosting the 2013 Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk in Seattle.

On average, someone in the U.S. experiences a stroke every 40 seconds.  Stroke can be a devastating disease, leaving many survivors with significant disabilities and leaving a permanent footprint on the lives of loved ones. 

The Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk gives us the opportunity to honor the survivors in our lives or the loved ones we have lost as we continue the fight to prevent stroke and improve stroke treatments. 

I will be walking in honor of ..

New MS therapy approved by the European Commission

On September 17, the European Commission, the European equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approved the release of alemtuzumab (Lemtrada™.)

Alemtuzumab is an intravenous monoclonal antibody that selectively reduces circulating T lymphocytes, which are thought to be involved in inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS). This reduction is followed by repopulation of T and B cells over time. It is administered on five consecutive days in the first year of therapy, followed by three consecutive days 12 months later.

Swedish Neuroscience Institute was involved in Care-MS II, one of the pivotal Phase III studies in which MS patients who had relapsed on other therapies were randomized to either alemtuzumab or interferon beta-1a. The drug was found to be significantly ...

Proteomics identifies protein changes in multiple sclerosis and CIS

A recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE found differences in protein levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) among people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and clinically isolated syndrome (CIS).

Using the relatively new field of proteomics, researchers were able to identify each individual protein in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)—86 total—and compares their levels among people with relapsing MS, clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and healthy individuals. People with RRMS had different levels of 20 proteins compared to people with CIS. Seventy five percent of those proteins related to neurons (rather than myelin). Changes were particularly notable for proteins related to neurons in participants with CIS.

This study is one of many MS studies coming from the relatively new field of proteomics. This field uses ...

Robotics and the future of rehabilitation for multiple sclerosis

I am pleased to write some of my thoughts after attending the International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR) in June. This bi-annual meeting brings together biomedical, design, and mechanical engineers as well as providers that work in the field of rehabilitation robotics.

Robotic devices are part of the future of neuro-rehabiltation for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.  ICORR displayed designs and prototypes of upper extremity devices and lower extremity gait orthosis devices that hold promise for MS patients.

Using these devices in clinical rehabilitation practice would improve patients’ ability to perform the frequent, repetitive movements that we know are essential for the brain to adapt to change, re-grow myelin and build connections between neurons (all parts of healthy neuroplasticity). It would also help address ....

MS Research Roundup: Cannabinoids and new trials for progressive MS

A couple recent announcements may be of interest to people living with multiple sclerosis. Read the articles below and click through the links for more information about the individual studies.

Trial shows no benefit of cannabinoid in slowing multiple sclerosis progression

A UK trial of dronabinol (delta-9-THC) in 498 patients did not slow the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) compared to placebo. Critics will point out that this is only one of many cannabinoids found in marijuana; and that the placebo arm did better than expected (thus limiting the ability to detect the effects of the drug). Nonetheless, the result is the strongest argument yet against the neuroprotective effects of THC in MS population.

New trials in progressive MS are coming

Later this year, two trials will ...

Can Botox help paraspinal muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis?

This post is jointly written with Alika Ziker, Swedish Neuroscience Institute research intern.

Botulinum toxin type-A (Botox) is a naturally occurring toxic substance best known for its use in cosmetics.  It is taken from certain bacteria and works by preventing the target muscle from contracting.

Over the last 15 years, several studies have emerged supporting the idea that Botox is also an effective and safe therapy for people who suffer from a loss of muscle control, lower back pain and even migraines. Because multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that attacks the central nervous system, many MS patients suffer from those same conditions, as well as weakness and spasticity.  Depending on the individual, the affected muscles may be ....

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