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Thursday, October 12, 2017

In a Nut Shell: What are Stem Cells?

Simply put, in your body there are many different kinds of cells, each specialized for its own distinct task. Just as a banker works in a bank and a teacher works in a school, we have cardiac myocytes which are heart muscle cells, and retinal cells that work in eyes and allow us to see. Stem cells are immature cells which have the capability of becoming these more specialized cells. By purifying and amplifying these cells, we have developed an exciting new method to repair organs that are irreversibly damaged by the ravages of disease.
Importantly, adult stem cells can be obtained from adult human bone marrow. When extracted and grown under laboratory conditions, bone marrow stem cells can grow into many different kinds of cells, depending on the laboratory conditions under which they are grown.

How does this work?

Consider this scenario: you have a heart attack. You go to hospital. The doctors treat you and stabilize your condition, but they are unable to actually repair the damage your heart has sustained. Because of this you are at risk for other medical problems.
Doctors at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute are working on new therapies to address this specific problem. Using adult stem cells from the bone marrow, early tests have shown that cell-based therapies can reverse the damage your heart has sustained. Because of this, cell-based therapy may in the future improve the quality of life of patients who have had heart attacks. The mission of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami is to make this happen as soon as possible and to conduct basic research to help understand exactly how this works.
This scenario, with further research and careful clinical trials, has the potential to be applicable to the repair of damaged liver, lung, spinal cord, and even improve treatments for diabetes.

Will this harm embryos?

These stem cells have never been anywhere near an embryo. They were made and live in adult bone marrow.

More About Stem Cells: Stem Cells 101

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MS Focus Provides Disaster Relief for People with MS

Nonprofit opens program to provide aid in Puerto Rico, California, and Gulf Coast

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Oct. 12, 2017 - PRLog -- MS Focus today announced an additional allocation of funds to its existing programs that provide help for people with MS in disaster-affected areas, and the opening of a special application period just for clients who are disaster survivors. The organization offers emergency financial assistance and provides medical equipment, cooling supplies, and other needed items and services to improve quality of life for people with MS.

"Since our focus is on providing for the critical needs of people with MS, normally the calls for assistance after a disaster can be handled within the scope of our daily work," said Alan Segaloff, the Foundation's co-executive director. "But the back-to-back disasters – from the hurricanes that have affected Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Gulf coast to the wildfires in California – have increased the demand for our services greatly. As a result, we're allocating additional funds from our emergency reserves specifically to help people with MS in disaster areas."

The organization's Cooling Program, which provides cooling products for people with MS who experience debilitating symptoms when the temperature rises, ended its 2017 cycle on June 1, but a special application period for the program is now being opened for those in disaster zones. "Calls are coming in from people desperately in need of these products in Puerto Rico," Segaloff said. "Because of the difficulties in shipping to the area right now, we're working closely with our friends at Fundación de Esclerosis Múltiple de Puerto Rico to get cooling vests, fans, and other items into the hands of people in need."

Other needs for disaster survivors are being met through the Emergency Assistance Grant, Transportation Assistance Grant, Assistive Technology Program, and other MS Focus services. Residents of disaster areas can use the standard applications for these programs, which are available online at, by email to, or by calling 888-673-6287.  No special application is required.

Kasey Minnis


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Study uncovers potential risks of common MS treatment

n one of the most comprehensive studies to date, University of British Columbia researchers found an increased risk of events such as stroke, migraine, and depression, as well as abnormalities in the blood when taking beta interferon for multiple sclerosis. Researchers hope their study will lead to further research to develop biomarkers to help identify patients who are at the greatest risk of having an adverse event.

The study’s authors aimed to identify potential adverse events related to beta-interferon treatment for relapsing-remitting MS by analyzing health records of more than 2,000 British Columbians with MS between 1995 and 2008.

The researchers found a 1.8-fold increased risk of stroke, a 1.6-fold increased risk of migraine, and a 1.3-fold increased risk of both depression and abnormalities in the blood. The researchers stress that patients and physicians should not change their treatment plans. The study is based on population-level data and the risk to individual patients will vary greatly depending on individual factors.

In addition to the negative effects, researchers found a reduced risk of bronchitis and upper respiratory infections with taking beta interferon for more than two years. These infections can be common and problematic in people with MS.

According to MSFocus Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Ben Thrower, “Beta interferon therapies have been a mainstay of MS treatment since 1993. This class of drugs includes Betaseron, Extavia, Rebif, Avonex, and Plegridy. This study points out the need to continue safety monitoring with all medications, even those that have been around a while. 

The study noted an increased risk of depression and migraine headaches in people with MS treated with beta interferons. In my experience, these medications do not cause depression or migraines, but may worsen them in individuals already affected by those conditions. Regular medical follow-up and blood testing is recommended for those on beta interferon therapy. The point of this study is not to scare anyone away from this class of drugs, but to point out the need for routine follow-ups and monitoring.”

The study was published in the journal Neurology.
Article source

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Discovery MS Drives Advancements in Multiple Sclerosis Research

For Immediate Release   
Jennifer Woodford, Media and Communications Manager, David H. Murdock Research Institute/NC Research Campus, or 704-200-5070

Discovery MS Drives Advancements in Multiple Sclerosis Research
Discovery MS, a non-profit research initiative housed in the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) on the NC Research Campus, just north of Charlotte, NC, uses innovative and collaborative research to lay the foundation for improved multiple sclerosis diagnosis and treatment.   

Kannapolis, NC—People with multiple sclerosis (MS), scientists, and philanthropists support the research work of Discovery MS, a non-profit research initiative housed in the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) at the NC Research Campus (NCRC). Discovery MS is accessing private research dollars to unlock scientific discoveries that could help develop new prognostic and diagnostic tools for MS. Simon Gregory, PhD, Duke University Professor of Neurology and Director of the Genomics Laboratory at DHMRI is the Principal Investigator of Discovery MS.

Private Funding Model

Jason Cox, who has suffered with MS for 22 years, understands the debilitating nature of the inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects the ability of the brain and spinal cord nerve cells to communicate. “We support the work of Discovery MS because it is exploratory research,” said Cox, a board member of the J. Cox Family Foundation and a member of the Discovery MS executive team. “They are looking for the next avenue to cure, diagnose and prevent this disease. We support Simon’s work and are going to reach out to a lot of other foundations.”

At the launch of Discovery MS, Cox presented an $8,000 donation from the J. Cox Family Foundation, the first installment of a five-year pledge to Discovery MS.

Herman Stone, CEO of Stone Theaters, provided the initial funding for Discovery MS. Stone and Cox share the goal of raising $1 million a year for the next five years to support Discovery MS and Gregory’s research.

“Simon continues to exceed my expectations,” Stone commented at the launch event. “The exciting work that he is doing plus his commitment to all of the folks who have MS makes this one of the most important projects in the country.”

Collaborative Research
With the fundraising and business expertise of Stone and Cox supporting him, Gregory, who is recognized for the 2007 discovery of a genetic connection between the ILR7 gene and MS, is focused on several investigations in collaboration with scientists from North Carolina to Australia. Their work includes:
  • ·       The development of biomarker signatures to predict the development of MS.
  • ·       The study of how genetic and environmental factors impact the expression of an individual’s MS.
  • ·       A new model to distinguish Beta-interferon responders and non-responders. Beta-interferon is a first-line treatment used to slow the progression of MS.
  • ·       Longitudinal studies in patients with primary progressive MS to determine markers and mechanisms of disease progression.
  • ·       Novel therapies that moderate immune cell expression, treat inflammation and promote remyelination.
  • ·       Development of a smartphone app to track symptoms for presentation to health care providers and to identify signatures of disease progression.

Discovery MS evolved from Gregory’s work as the director of DHMRI’s Genomics Laboratory and as the principal investigator of two MS sub-studies of the Duke University Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) MURDOCK Study, a longitudinal clinical research project that has collected biospecimens and health information from more than 12,000 participants. Both DHMRI and the MURDOCK CTSI Study are located on the NCRC in Kannapolis, NC.  Discovery MS is located at the DHMRI, and many of the studies underway use biospecimens donated by the 975 participants of the MURDOCK MS Study. A MURDOCK sub-study focused on primary progressive MS is still collecting serial samples.

“The advantage Discovery MS has in conducting MS research is that the DHMRI provides the infrastructure to carry out the experiments underlying the research avenues we are pursuing,” Gregory said. “By having a collection of biospecimens generously donated by people with MS as part of the MURDOCK-MS study, we can take a multi-dimensional approach. We don’t have to limit ourselves to just looking at the genetics or the function of gene expression. We can do that in combination with metabolomics, proteomics and clinical data to enhance discovery and approach a cure.”

Multiple sclerosis causes physical and cognitive disability for 2.5 million people worldwide.

About Discovery MS
The goal of Discovery MS is to promote fuller, more active lives for people with MS by advancing the understanding of the origins of MS and improving diagnosis, prediction of disease progression, and assessment of treatment efficacy. Learn more at

About Duke University’s MURDOCK MS Study

The MURDOCK Multiple Sclerosis Study is a cohort of the Duke Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) MURDOCK Study (Measurement to Understand the Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis), Duke University’s longitudinal clinical research initiative working to reclassify health and disease and advance precision medicine. The MURDOCK MS Study aims to identify biomarkers to better predict the onset and progression of multiple sclerosis. The MURDOCK Study began in 2007 at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC, and is led by L. Kristin Newby, MD, MHS, a professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Duke University School of Medicine. To learn more, visit

About the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI)

The David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI), located on the NC Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC, collaborates with companies, institutions and researchers throughout the world to integrate genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, analytical sciences, cellular sciences and bioinformatics to make food nutritious, therapies effective, prevention possible and people healthier. To learn more, visit

About the NC Research Campus
The North Carolina Research Campus, located in Kannapolis, NC, near Charlotte, has the mission of improving human health through nutrition. The scientific community of eight universities, the David H. Murdock Research Institute, global companies and entrepreneurs focus research and development on safer, more nutritious crops, healthier foods and precision nutrition. Learn more at


Disclaimer: MS Views and News provides educational information. We are not associated with this study in any form except to let the MS community know of this important research.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Evidence of Lymph Vessels in Human Brain May Offer New Insights into MS, Other Disorders

October 6, 2017 - by Ashraf Malhas, PhD

Evidence of Lymph Vessels in Human Brain May Offer New Insights into MS, Other Disorders

Groundbreaking evidence of the existence of lymphatic vessels in the human brain could answer the question of how the brain gets rid of waste products, and holds clear implications for neuroinflammatory disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
The lymphatic system is a network that helps the body to rid itself of toxins and waste products. Lymphatic vessels, which are similar to blood vessels, transport a clear fluid – lymph – which is filtered in lymph nodes.
It has long been thought that the brain lacks lymphatic vessels. However, a team of researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), building on previous research in rodent brains, recently found evidence that the brain may actually drain waste through lymphatic vessels.
“We literally watched people’s brains drain fluid into these vessels,” Daniel S. Reich, study lead author and senior investigator at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), said in a press release.
The researchers injected healthy volunteers with a magnetic dye called gadobutrol, which is usually used as a contrast agent to image blood vessels. They then scanned the brains of these individuals using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) under specific settings. This allowed them to view the dye within the outer layer of the brain, known as the dura.
The MRI revealed that the dye was visible both as dots and straight lines, which might indicate lymph vessels. This suggested that the dye leaked out of blood vessels into the dura and were later ‘picked up’ by lymphatic vessels.
These vessels were not seen when the volunteers were injected with another dye that does not leak out of blood vessels. Evidence of lymphatic vessels in the brain was also found in autopsied human brain tissue.

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Therapy That Just Might Beat MS Fatigue

October 6, 2017 - by Ed Tobias

Therapy That Just Might Beat MS Fatigue

The therapy is called transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, and researchers at the MS Comprehensive Care Center at NYU Langone Health say patients who used it had their fatigue significantly improved. How improved? A drop of almost six points on a 32-point scale that measures fatigue, compared with study subjects who were using a placebo. (This study was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.)

What does tDCS do?

Transcranial direct current stimulation applies a low-amplitude, direct electrical current to the scalp using electrodes nested in a headset. The current targets the brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is an area of the brain that deals with, among other things, memory and attention. The exact mechanism behind tDCS isn’t clear, but it’s thought that it may change the brain’s cortical excitability by making it easier for neurons to fire, thereby making better connections in the cortex.

What did the study do?

According to an NYU Langone news release, 27 people played a cognitive training game that targets the brain’s processing speed and working memory. Fifteen of the participants received the tDCS treatment, while 12 received a placebo. After 20 game sessions, participants reported their level of fatigue. Those receiving tDCS reported, as mentioned earlier, a 5.6-point drop in fatigue. Those receiving the placebo actually saw a 0.9-point increase in fatigue.
“These data are a hopeful sign that we can use tDCS to help patients with MS manage their fatigue, and that continuing the treatment may show even better results,” says lead study author Leigh Charvet, PhD, associate professor of neurology and director of MS research at NYU Langone Health. “Importantly, tDCS can be delivered remotely to patients at home, offering a practical option for patients, especially those with travel limitations and MS-related disability.”

What’s next?  - click here to read more

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