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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Unique gene therapy prevents, reverses multiple sclerosis in animal model

September 21, 2017

Brad E. Hoffman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at the University of Florida College of Medicine, and a group of his colleagues have shown that gene therapy can be used to inhibit and reverse multiple sclerosis in mouse models.

Multiple sclerosis can be inhibited or reversed in mouse models using a novel gene therapy technique to suppress the immune response that induces the disease, University of Florida Health researchers have found.
By combining the transfer of a brain-protein gene with a drug used in organ transplant recipients, the researchers essentially cured mice of multiple sclerosis, resulting in near-complete remission of disease. Their findings, which the researchers said have significant potential for treating multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders, are published today (Sept. 21) in the journal Molecular Therapy.
Multiple sclerosis affects about 2.3 million people worldwide and is the most common neurological disease in young adults. This incurable disorder starts when the immune system attacks the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers, making them misfire and leading to problems with muscle weakness, vision, speech and muscle coordination.
The researchers used a harmless virus, known as an adeno-associated virus or AAV, to deliver a gene coding one of the common immune targets, a myelin sheath protein called myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein or MOG, into the livers of the mouse models. The protein leads to the production of so-called regulatory T cells, which suppress the rogue immune system cells responsible for attacking the protective layer of nerve cells that defines multiple sclerosis. The effectiveness of this approach is based on targeting the gene therapy to the liver, which promotes immune tolerance.
“Using a clinically tested gene therapy platform, we are able to induce very specific regulatory T cells that target the self-reactive cells responsible for causing multiple sclerosis,” said Brad E. Hoffman, Ph.D., an associate professor in the departments of pediatrics and neuroscience at the University of Florida College of Medicine.
The gene therapy-induced protein, MOG, was found to be effective in preventing and reversing multiple sclerosis on its own and the results have been validated through multiple independent experiments. Overall, the therapy was tested in groups of five to 10 mice and the results were reproduced multiple times.  

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

IT’S RELEASE DAY FOR KINKY BRIEFS, THRICE! A Collection of short stories dedicated to MS warriors

For immediate release:  September 8, 2017
For more information, contact:

Collection of short stories dedicated to MS warriors  

MILWAUKEE, WIKinky Briefs, Thrice, the third collection of sizzling short stories by former lawyer Seelie Kay, and released today by eXtasy Books, is not only dedicated to MS warriors, it also features a story about a lawyer newly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

            Kays says it’s her favorite story in Kinky Briefs, Thrice. “Munk is a character near and dear to my heart, not only because we both suffer from MS, but because she chooses to confront the illness from a position of strength,” Kay said.  “Instead of giving up after her diagnosis, Munk seeks ways to adjust to her new limitations to ensure that she does not sacrifice her own hopes and dreams.  And one of those dreams is a healthy and lasting relationship—love.”

            Kay said when confronted with a chronic illness, you begin to question everything in your life, including your relationships. “You honestly don’t know who will stay in your life and who will flee,” she said. “The fear is that you will wind up isolated and alone.  I wanted to write this particular story to reflect what I perceive to be the right way to interact with someone who has been newly-diagnosed with a disability. ”

            She dedicates the book, “To my fellow MS Warriors: For continuing to aggressively battle against a cruel and sometimes devastating disease, as a patient, advocate, volunteer, caregiver, family member, and/or medical professional.”  Kay says many people play a positive role in the life of someone who suffers from MS, and she wanted to thank them for their efforts.

            “Because MS affects everyone differently, the search for a cure has been arduous,” Kay said.  “But I have faith that working together, we will find a cure.          

            The third book in the Kinky Briefs series continues the theme of kinky beginnings, happy endings, and sizzling encounters with lawyers in love. “From a randy AG who uses his cycle to woo a young law firm associate to a Sheikh and lawyer in a fight for their lives, or a kinky lawyer struggling to adapt to a diagnosis of a crippling, chronic illness and a rowdy fantasy about a new sheriff in town, each lawyer attacks life with humor and passion, always ready to embrace just a dash of kink,” says Kay. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might even blush, but one thing’s for certain, when you’re done reading, you’ll run out and buy a set of handcuffs!”      

            Other stories include a cowboy with PTSD, a private investigator/paralegal who gets in involved with a Hollywood action hero, and two attorneys trying to find a work-life balance in their lives after they  become new parents.  “I bring back some characters from previous books, such as the lawyer who ran off with the circus in Kinky Briefs, as well as the Sheikh and international law attorney from Wisconsin, whose relationship began in Kinky Briefs and continued in Kinky Briefs, Too,”  Kay said.  “In addition, The Garage Dweller returns, this time with disastrous results.”

            The book ends with “a story of love redeemed—a couple who found love early in life, lost it, and finally reclaim it,” she added. “I love happy endings.”

            Kinky Briefs, Thrice, published by eXtasy Books, is currently available on their website (  It will also be sold by other major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble, and  It will be available primarily as an ebook, but will also be sold in paperback by select booksellers, Kay says.
For more information, visit or follow Kay on Twitter or Facebook.
            Kay is also an MS warrior:  She writes, despite MS.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Study Highlights Promise, Questions in Quest for Stem Cell-based MS Treatments

AUGUST 24, 2017
Jared Kaltwasser

A promising report from India appears to bolster the case that stem cell therapies might one day reverse the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), but experts say there remain many more questions than answers when it comes to the potential treatment option.

Earlier this month, Indian research firm Advancells announced the results of a single-patient pilot study. The firm said they used an autologous adult stem cell therapy to successfully reverse MS symptoms in a patient from New Zealand.

The patient said he was able to regain the ability to climb stairs following the procedure, something he hadn’t done in five years. The company says they plan to track MRI scans and other data over the next several months in order to understand and document the full impact of the treatment on the disease.

Despite the apparent improvement in symptoms for the Advancells patient, researchers say there’s still much not know about stem cell-based therapies.

Bruce Bebo (pictured), PhD, the executive vice president of research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said it’s far too early to be able to draw any concrete conclusions about the promise of stem cell treatments for MS.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions that need to be answered in a rigorous methodical way in order for us to really understand the full potential and all the risks,” Bebo said.

Among the questions, according to Bebo: what are the best sources for cells, what’s the best delivery method for cells, how many cells need to be transplanted, and which candidates are most likely to benefit from such a treatment?

Advancells took cells from the patient’s bone marrow, isolated adult stem cells, and then injected them back into the body at strategic points to induce natural repairs mechanisms in the body to act.

In addition to the method used by Advancells, other researchers are working on a therapy known as autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, in which stem cells are withdrawn from a patient and then chemotherapy is used to weaken the patient’s immune system. Once the immune system is weakened, the stimulated stem cells are transplanted back into the patient in hopes of essentially “rebooting” the patient’s immune system so it will no longer attack the central nervous system.

One other method being studied involves growing or reprogramming cells to induce myelin repair. The National MS Society published a paper last month outlining the status of various stem cell research.

The bottom line is that, in the case of all of these methods, there have yet to be any rigorous large-scale human-based studies to demonstrate or refute the therapies.

Bebo also noted that while stem cells have been used successfully to treat macular degeneration, studies attempting to use cell-based therapies to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases have proven less successful.

“There’s promise but a lot of work that needs to be done in order to fully understand both the promise and pitfalls of this approach,” Bebo said.

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Iron Intake Could Contribute to Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis

SEPTEMBER 07, 2017
Rachel Lutz

A significant intake of iron may contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) in children, according to a new report.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco examined 312 pediatric MS patients and 456 controls in order to to determine the association between dietary factors and MS in the population. The children were recruited from 16 US centers, and were diagnosed with MS before reaching 18 years old.

The patients and their parents also completed the Block Kids Food Screener questionnaire 2011-2016. The 41-question survey asked about development, environmental exposures, medical history, demographic information, and race.

There are anecdotal reports of amelioration of MS symptoms when a patient adopts a “healthy” diet such as Mediterranean or low-fat/ high fiber, researchers wrote. However, there are currently no dietary guidelines for patients with MS and their at-risk relatives. And so far, dietary studies for MS patients have centered on vitamin D and obesity, but not overall diets.

The researchers observed an average dietary intake of fiber, iron, and dairy was significantly lower in MS patients compared to controls. When the investigators categorized their data by males vs. females, the only average dietary difference was dietary fiber in males.

The mean calorie intake for cases and controls was similar between the groups, and the percentage energy intake from protein, carbohydrates, and fat did not present and differences between MS patients and controls.

However, the data did suggest a presence of lower iron intake among cases of pediatric MS, Dr. Julia Pakpoor told MD Magazine. The study is the first of its kind to examine the diets of pediatric MS patients, researchers wrote, while other studies looked at dietary factors in MS patients, such as fat intake, or fruit and vegetable intake, and gut microbiota modulation. 

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How to Meditate for Beginners - 30 Tips, Tricks and Tools

Meditation is the simplest thing ... and that’s why it can be so difficult.
The following meditation tips will help you to avoid some common pitfalls beginners face, and build a strong foundation for your practice.
When you are ready to start, we offer a number free online guided meditations.
Don’t have time to read it all in one go?
Get a FREE Meditation for Beginners E-Course and follow along to a series of daily emails and videos with guided meditations, tips and tools.

Before You Meditate

Attempting to jump straight from a busy work day into a silent peaceful state of deep rest is a bit overly optimistic.
Instead, by taking a little time to prepare for your meditation you can give yourself the gift of a deeper and more pleasant experience.

Airplane mode

Possibly the most important meditation ritual of our time - put your phone on airplane mode. There’s no better way to ruin a meditation than by leaving your phone on and getting a call or text in the middle. So turn off your phone or put it on airplane mode as soon as you get ready to meditate. Still have a corded phone? Unplug it!

Warm-up your body with yoga or light exercise

Before starting your meditation do a few warm-ups or beginner’s yoga exercises. These will help to improve circulation, remove any inertia or restlessness, and will make your body feel lighter. At the least, take a walk around your building or office.
A short warm-up before meditation will also allow you to sit peacefully for a longer period time.

Calm the mind with breathing exercises

You can also do a few rounds of a yoga breathing exercise, such as Nadi Shodhan pranayama as well. Learning a simple breathing exercise like this can make meditation significantly easier.
Why, you ask? Because the breath is so connected to our mind and emotions, as soon as you slow and steady the rhythm of your breath, it quickly leads the mind into a peaceful, meditative state.


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