Decades of basic and applied research into MS and the basic workings of the immune and nervous systems have built a critical platform of knowledge that is serving as a springboard for progress. At the same time, new technologies, such as gene chip technology and new MRI-based imaging techniques, are allowing scientists to revisit age-old questions about MS, and may lead to insights into what causes this disease and what can be done to stop it and reverse its damage.
Researchers are tracking down exciting leads and making headway in virtually every field related to MS. A few examples:
- The farther one lives from the equator, the higher one’s risk of MS. Society researchers are exploring whether sunlight exposure is a protective factor, and are looking at many other risk or protective factors for clues to the cause of MS. Read about research into triggering factors.
- Can robotics retrain the brain to improve walking ability? Based on the idea that repetition can help restore strength, balance, and recognition of sensory cues that make walking possible, Society researchers are using robotic devices to help people walk on a treadmill in hopes of improving walking ability. Read about other rehabilitation research.
- MS is unpredictable. Any individual’s disease progression, severity, specific symptoms and response to therapies cannot be easily foreseen. But an international team of researchers is taking clues from patterns of MS damage seen in the brain to try to predict the best treatment for any individual. Read more about the Promise: 2010 MS Lesion Project.
- Women are more prone to developing MS, but when men get the disease, it can be more severe. Learn how research on gender differences in MS has already led to new treatment possibilities.
- Our brains have stores of cells capable of replacing myelin. Can scientists find a way to stimulate these cells to repair MS damage, or do cell transplants hold more promise? Society researchers are on the cutting edge of these important questions. Read about research in nervous system protection and repair.
- Researchers believe that a person’s genes determine whether they are susceptible to developing MS, yet even identical twins have different risks for the disease, depending on their experiences. Read about the search for MS genes.
- MS costs the U.S. economy about $28 billion per year. Our health care delivery and policy researchers are investigating this and other important issues, such as job discrimination, insurance experiences, and optimal health care settings. Read about health care delivery research.
- Deeper understanding of destructive and protective immune factors in MS is opening up new opportunities for turning off the attack or to protect brain tissues. Experimental therapies in the pipeline include some in pill form. Read about efforts to understand the immune attack in MS.