New approach to multiple sclerosis research hopes to find more effective treatments, cure

October 10, 2005

A new university-public research partnership will help physicians and researchers work toward a better understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS), the development of novel treatments and ultimately the goal of finding a cure. The Oak Clinic/Kent State University Consortium for Multiple Sclerosis and Neurodegenerative Disease Research combines the clinical expertise of physicians dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of MS patients with substantial expertise in basic neuroscience research by Kent State biomedical researchers.

MS is a chronic, potentially disabling disease that affects the central nervous system and typically strikes individuals during their early adult years. The disease can be especially devastating due to the profound disability associated with its progression and its economic impact, since MS persists through what is often a normal lifespan.

The interdisciplinary research group at Kent State is using advanced molecular techniques and three-dimensional imaging to visualize the basic mechanisms of MS, which have yet to be clearly understood. The consortium's use of advanced imaging techniques will provide a great deal more information to clinicians and scientists than is currently available through the use of two-dimensional images. Early diagnosis techniques and more effective treatments may potentially result. This technology also will be used to better track the effectiveness of current and future therapies.

Use of high-resolution, three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging of the central nervous system is just one component of the consortium's efforts. Consortium scientists also are investigating a new hypothesis endorsed by the National Institutes of Health--that the destruction of nerves which underlies MS begins with changes to the internal machinery inside a cell rather than to destruction of the covering that normal nerve cells have. The Kent State approach complements standard MS research programs, in which the autoimmune process thought to be responsible for demyelination, or the destruction of the protective sheath surrounding nerve fibers, is the focus of study.

Kent State University

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