Current Research Update
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAST YEAR AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
The Center Without Walls (CWW) is made of six groups with complementary expertise in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research. The CWW exchanges scientific information and collaborates at multiple levels. Several new and exciting scientific achievements in the past year have continued to fuel the CWW’s commitment to find a cure for MS. Scientific meetings provide an open forum for discussion and presentation of novel ideas and findings. Centers with specific expertise provide valuable support to others, with each having a unique background. This constant exchange process is nurturing an outstandingly rich research activity. During these meetings, thirty key investigators of the six institutions shared information prior to publication. The specific scientific accomplishments of individual centers are contained in the individual reports. The highlights are presented below.
The past year has been terrific for The Center Without Walls. Many exciting novel research projects are ongoing and several outstanding junior faculty are developing cutting-edge research thanks to the support of the Race to Erase MS.
During this past year, the Foundation has supported five very promising junior scientists to help them establish their cutting-edge research. In July 2015, the Foundation has started to support 2 new junior scientists, Dr. Stephen Fancy (UCSF) and Dr. Naila Makhani (Yale). Dr. Fancy is studying the remyelination potential related to migration of immature myelin forming cells along vessel scaffolds. Dr. Makhani is studying MRI features of early phases of pediatric MS in addition to immune characteristics in these patients. During the coming year, the Foundation will continue supporting Dr. Oleg Butovsky (Harvard) for his second year and Drs. Shiv Saida (Hopkins) and Jennifer Graves (UCSF) for their third year of young investigator award. Dr. Butovsky is studying immune cells, aka microglia to understand better their very important role in MS such as regulation of inflammation and damage in the brain, but also to unravel the mechanisms that control these cells. Dr. Shiv Saidha at Hopkins utilizes a novel technology called optic coherence tomography (OCT), which can very precisely measure the health of nerves in the back of the eye called the retina and study how they degenerate. He examines whether OCT measures of nerve damage in the eye can predict nerve damage in other parts of the brain. Dr. Graves is studying factors in the environment that together with genes contribute to higher frequency of MS relapses. This is a novel area of research as the interactions between genes and environment in MS are poorly understood and some may be amenable to treatment.