Improving recruitment and outcomes for remyelination trails in MS

University of Virginia researchers are working to identify candidate tools to improve recruitment and outcomes for remyelination trials in MS. With ziMS Foundation support, they have identified that a patient’s performance during a six-minute walk (6MW) may provide unique information about the nervous system.  They believe that this 6MW performance could be used as an effective and efficient way of determining which patients are strong candidate for remyelination trials and which drugs are most effective. Pilot studies, made possible by the ziMS Foundation, have indicated a strong likelihood that the 6MW could provide an accessible and inexpensive way to optimize the success of these very promising studies. Dr. Goldman was among the first and continued advocates for the application of the 6MW in MS. The current 6MW work builds on 5 years of research that Dr. Goldman initiated during fellowship training at the Cleveland Clinic and has included several studies and manuscripts that have culminated from funding by the ziMS Foundation, NIH NINDS, and National MS Society. The next step ziMS funded pilot work that focuses on remyelination trials is now being used in applications for grant funding to continue and expand this work.

Insulin Resistance in Treating MS Relapse

Intravenous or oral steroids are a common treatment for MS patients who experience a relapse or flare up of symptoms. However, some patients do not respond well to these treatments. A team from UVA has determined that people with MS may be more likely to have insulin resistance, causing difficulty processing and appropriately using their body’s own blood sugar. Steroids given to treat a relapse can, as a side effect, increase a person’s blood sugar levels, especially in those who are insulin resistant. Dr. Goldman wants to know if controlling blood sugar can decrease the severity and/or improve recovery from an acute MS relapse. If blood sugar response is found to be relevant to relapse severity or recovery, treatment strategies can be developed to improve recovery—and possibly slow the accumulation of disability. UVA is now actively recruiting for a study to answer this question, supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the ziMS Foundation.

Impact of ketogentic diet on MS patients

Dr. Nick Brenton, a Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis specialist at the University of Virginia, is currently studying the impact of a ketogenic diet on MS patients. The ketogenic diet is one that promotes the formation of ketones and causes the body to use fat (rather than carbohydrates) as its primary energy sources. It has shown promise in other neurological conditions, and through the support of the ziMS Foundation, it is now being studied in MS patients at UVA.

Internet usage and decision making amongst MS patients

Supported by the ziMS Foundation, a study at the University of Virginia is exploring the effects of internet usage on decision making amongst multiple sclerosis patients. Thus far 140 patients have been enrolled and have answered questions regarding the type, source and frequency of their internet usage, as well as recent decisions they have made regarding their health care. A UVA medical school student, under the guidance of Dr. Myla Goldman, is investigating whether pseudo social science is making an impact on health care decisions for these patients, a question that could have implications for not only those living with MS, but other patients as well.

Building the next generation of MS doctors and researchers

ziMS Foundation support for the University of Virginia’s MS program over the last 10 years has not only advanced research, it has helped to build the next generation of MS doctors and researchers. Over the course of UVA’s partnership with ziMS, two PhD students, four medical students, and 10 undergraduates or post-graduates have been actively engaged in human-centered research under the mentorship of Dr. Myla Goldman. These students are building their own deep passion for improving the lives of MS patients and are going on to medical school and serving communities with their expertise.