During this research update we will be discussing what Johns Hopkins has been working on over the course of the past year. Including; a blood test for MS, myelin repair, genome sequencing, MRI/OCT imaging tools, and laboratory science. All of these advancements will assist Before you know it 2021 will be wrapping up and we can all look forward to a hopeful beginning in 2022. With that being said, we find it appropriate to give you all an update on the research the Johns Hopkins MS Research Center is doing to advance their already incredible work in the area of MS research. Over the course of the last year all of us here at MS4MS are hard at work to ensure that the Hopkins research center can continue to prosper in advancing this research and one day be able to find a cure for MS.st in determining the best way to help those living with MS and finding a hopeful cure for the disease.
Before we get into the science of this incredible work being done, Dr. Calabresi, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center has a message about the new advancements in vaccine technology and how it can impact the hopeful future of this technology being used in finding a cure.
“Vaccines are a great example of the miracle of science. If people had not had the wisdom and foresight to support mRNA technology in the first direct decade of the millennium when it seemed as though the approach was fraught with side effects, we would not have this cure in hand,” said Calabresi. “This very same technology may offer hope in vaccinating people with MS if we can find the right target or targets that trigger autoimmunity.”
With new technology being used in vaccines it gives doctors and scientists hope that new technology can positively impact the progress of future vaccinations for other diseases such as MS.
The first advancement to discuss is a blood test for MS that measures particles released from damaged nerves called neurofilaments. This appears to be useful for prognosis in early MS, monitoring disease activity, and response to drugs in relapsing MS. The idea is to ramp this up to eventually have a commercial test within a 3 year time period. Also, the Johns Hopkins Precision Medicine Center of Excellence received a grant to study how progressive MS happens and if new treatments are in fact slowing progression.
MRI and OCT eye imaging are both great tools to track lesions and disability progression in those living with MS. These imaging tools can greatly impact how MS is detected and who is at risk for a worsening diagnosis.
In collaborating with groups at the University of Pennsylvania, Cleveland Clinic, Wilmer Eye Institution, and the NIH many exciting developments have been made to advance work being done to better the lives of MS patients. For example, the NIH; along with the University of Pennsylvania and the Cleveland Clinic have developed a new MRI sequence that detects iron laden lesions which can determine whether an existing legion is stable or getting worse and another MRI sequence that can help determine if white spots on an MRI are related to MS or not; respectively.
Collaborating with the Wilmer Eye Institution has allowed the MS Research Center to develop a new application of OCT, called angiography. This can examine the health of the blood vessel in the back of the eye, which can determine who is at risk for worsening MS progression and
allow for earlier intervention.
Lastly, laboratory science and clinical research have been making exciting strides in the last few years and continues to be an important part of what the MS Research Center does. Some of the most important work being done is in the area of myelin repair. By examining genetic codes inside the myelin making cells called oligodendrocytes to understand why they are not working properly. New technology is being used called whole genome sequencing to examine the entire genome instead of only fragments of our DNA to determine if genes have a relation to the risk of a worse form of the disease. In collaboration with neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins, the MS Research Center is studying how nerve cells die and testing therapies that may rescue injured nerves and their projections called axons.
Over the last few years, Covid-19 has led to budget cuts in numerous areas of public health including the Johns Hopkins MS Research Center and other related facilities. Due to this and many other reasons, all of us here at MS4MS are proud to support the work of Dr. Calabresi, his team, and the many brilliant scientists and clinicians who dedicate their lives to medical research for Johns Hopkins and the MS Research Center.
As you can see, the work that we and many other non-profit’s do is vital to Johns Hopkins and the numerous programs under their umbrella. This is why the work all of us collectively do from within our organization to the many sponsors and volunteers who support us is so important.
Last but not least, we would like to thank those who have helped raise funds at our events all year long. As the end of the year approaches, we hope that you will continue #spreadingORANGE with us and help us raise as much as possible so we can make an impact on the work being done at Johns Hopkins to find a cure for MS.
Information included within this article was obtained from an internal memo sent to our organization by Dr. Calabresi in the summer of 2021.
MS4MS Executive Editor