taking advantage of a longstanding consortium of MS centers
in one state. At the same time, a
third study is searching for clues
that determine whether a person
with early symptoms will progress to developing definite MS.
Spanning the globe to stop
Howard L. Weiner, MD (Harvard
Medical School) is a renowned
champion of MS research and
clinical care. In 2007, he received
the National MS Society/Ameri-
can Academy of Neurology’s John
Dystel Prize for MS Research. Dr.
Weiner’s studies on the immunol-
ogy of MS have helped form the
basis for the current understand-
ing of immune mechanisms and
Howard L. Weiner, MD (Harvard Medical School)—a renowned champion of MS research and clinical care—has established a consortium
of champions to tackle the problem of MS progression.
populations and have established
the capacity to study them.
The groups are collecting data
over two years on 1500 people
with MS, data from clinical
examinations, MRI scans, blood
tests, and DNA samples. The
groups are also collecting epidemiological data—searching
for any factors that might unite
people whose MS progresses, and
differentiate them from those
who do not progress. Suspected
factors include family history,
vaccination and infectious
diseases history, tobacco smoking history, diet, sun exposure,
gender hormones and pregnancy.
The team will determine whether
any of these factors are associated
with disease progression during
the two-year study period.
As a secondary goal, this team
is combing genetic, MRI, and
immunologic data compiled at
each center, using the latest gene
and protein chip technologies,
to determine if any MRI findings or blood biomarkers (see p.
60) appear to be linked to MS
The centers are putting all these
data into a central repository
for analysis. The project takes
advantage of each center’s already
outstanding contributions to
MS research. One example is the
Investigation of MS at Boston’s
Brigham & Women’s Hospital (CLIMB)—which already
follows 1300 people and has
resulted in more than 30 publi-
JIM FlIS, ClEvERMOuNTAIN STuDIOS