Headlines & MS Excitement

My husband called me at work today, excitedly wanting to tell me that they had found a way to stop the autoimmune system from turning on the human body - basically he heard that they had found a way to stop and reverse MS. He heard this news flash – actually it was a rather lengthy story – on BBC radio. He had to leave this message on my voice mail because I was on a telephone conference discussing other MS studies with colleagues from the Accelerate Cure Project.

I can see why he was excited because when I google for the story I find the Daily Mail wrote "Breakthrough hope for MS treatment as scientists discover how to 'switch off' autoimmune diseases”

The Express’s headline was a bit calmer with “Could a cure for MS and diabetes be on the way?” But their lead sentence reads “SCIENTISTS have discovered how to "switch off" autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes in a breakthrough which could improve the lives of millions of people,” and that thought is exciting.

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When I called my husband back, of course I got his voice mail, and I left a message that he should curb his enthusiasm a bit because those studies are far from being proven. When we finally connected in person, he was disappointed that the headlines weren’t quite what they made it out to be.

The study, Sequential transcriptional changes dictate safe and effective antigen-specific immunotherapy, was just published in the September edition of the  peer reviewed journal, Nature Communications. You can read the entire paper on line for free, but be forewarned it involves lots of talk about CD 4+ Tcells, immunotherapy, and mice. Their opening statement pretty much tells the focus of the study – ‘Antigen-specific immunotherapy combats autoimmunity or allergy by reinstating immunological tolerance to target antigens without compromising immune function.”

Here’s my translation – they tried to change the immune reaction in mice and had success. Remember please, mice aren’t tiny humans, as proof I offer that they walk on 4 legs and not two, and all research studies that begin with results from studies with mice are usually years away from being tested on humans. Still I will agree it is an exciting story – it just doesn’t match up with the headlines screaming CURE!

In a few short days we will be bombarded with additional new headlines of advances and breakthroughs in MS, courtesy of coverage of the convention of the joint meeting of the European and American Committees for Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS and ACTRIMS). This is the world’s largest gathering of researchers and medical personnel who are all working in the world of multiple sclerosis. Each year, courtesy of these meetings and others like them, there are headlines meant to grab our attention and give us hope that a cure is close.

Behind many of these headlines are researchers with their own mice in their own labs, while others will be from studies done on two legged mammals – humans or modeled on computers. These are reports that are the foundation of future use for all of us, but not quite ready for human use yet.

The same will be true for this year’s ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS Congress. Just like my husband, many of us will catch bits and pieces of the latest headlines and be excited, but also left needing more information. Those of us who blog for MultipleSclerosis.net will follow the convention via press releases, web conferences, and twitter feeds, or even be fortunate to be there in person for the proceedings. Then we will spend hours upon hours sorting through all those headlines and sound bites to find the real news of the day that can make an immediate difference for those of us with MS. We will work through the tiny details and read more studies and meeting transcripts and figure out ways to share those for all of you who read our blogs.

Just like the information I shared with my husband who needed more of the story that created  the headlines, we will do try to do he same for you in the coming days. If you catch any ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS headlines that excite you, feel free to let us know so we can dig into the details and fill in the details for all of us.

Wishing you well,


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