What Triggers MS in Kids? Pediatric Network and Other Sites Recruiting for Study of Environmental an - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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What Triggers MS in Kids? Pediatric Network and Other Sites Recruiting for Study of Environmental and Genetic Risk Factors

April 25, 2012

Investigators nationwide are recruiting 640 children with early relapsing-remitting MS or CIS (clinically isolated syndrome, a single episode of MS-like symptoms) and 1280 children without MS or CIS for a four-year study to determine environmental and genetic risk factors that make children susceptible to developing MS. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, leverages the National MS Society’s support of the Promise:2010 Pediatric Network of Centers of Excellence.

Background: This study takes advantage of the collaborative efforts of the Pediatric Network. Although the initial grants end this year, there is funding through 2012 to support a data coordination and analysis center so the Network can continue to collect data and study pediatric MS and related disorders. The Network produced over 150 papers, posters and presentations on pediatric MS and network members are the lead authors and editors of a textbook on Pediatric MS from Cambridge Press.

The five-year, $3.2 million grant to lead investigator Dr. Emmanuelle Waubant (University of California, San Francisco Pediatric MS Center) from the NIH is based on pilot data collected by the Network in a study of 180 children with MS. That study confirmed previous reports that the Epstein-Barr virus (which causes infectious mononucleosis and other disorders) was associated with higher risk of MS. They also reported that cytomegalovirus was associated with a lower risk of developing MS, and that herpes simplex virus type 1was associated with increased risk in children who did not have a specific immune-related gene. (Neurology 2011;76:1989–1995)

These findings and other factors are being investigated further in the new study, which should help us understand more about how MS begins in children and can eventually be applied to adult forms of MS. Read more about what triggers MS.

The Study: Those under age 18 who had disease onset (MS or CIS) in the last two years may enroll in this study with the consent of their parents. Children without MS or CIS can enroll if they are 19 or younger and don’t have a demyelinating disease or an autoimmune disorder (except asthma).

Participants are providing blood samples to test for genetic and environmental risk factors that may be associated with pediatric MS. Next, all participants are completing questionnaires about relevant environmental factors. Investigators also will draw information from participants’ medical records.

Investigators specifically are looking at genes, Epstein Barr and other common viruses, vitamin D levels, and exposure to cigarette smoking. They are attempting to confirm these risk factors separately and to determine whether there are any interactions between them.

Contact: For further information, please contact Janace Hart (University of California, San Francisco) at (415) 514-2476.

These sites are enrolling participants nationwide:
University of California, San Francisco Pediatric MS Center, San Francisco, CA
Stony Brook National Pediatric MS Center, Stony Brook, NY
Partners Pediatric MS Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Boston, MA
Pediatric MS Center of the Jacobs Neurological Institute, University of Buffalo, NY
Regional Pediatric MS Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
MS Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, TX
Pediatric MS Clinic, Children’s Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
Pediatric MS Clinic, Children’s Hospital, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Center for Pediatric-Onset Demyelinating Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama, Birmingham, AL
Pediatric MS and Related Disorders Clinic, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA
Pediatric MS Clinic, University of Colorado Children’s Hospital, Aurora, CO
Pediatric MS Clinic, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL
University of Texas Southwestern Pediatric Demyelinating Disease at Children's Hospital, Dallas, TX

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.