MS Research Roundup: February 26, 2014
Potassium Channel Preview; Modern Treatment Overview; How to Succeed in Science; MSers at FoxNews
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Potassium Channel Preview
The American Academy of Neurology is getting an early start on getting the news out from its annual meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014. This week, many news outlets picked up an advance press release about an abstract reporting that antibodies to the potassium channel protein KIR4.1 were present in about half of the blood samples of 16 people a few months before they were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), but not in age-matched healthy people. The study advances the discovery 2 years ago of the antibody in nearly half of 397 serum samples from people with relapsing-remitting MS. Both studies were funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research and the German Competence Network for Multiple Sclerosis. The potassium channel is expressed mainly by astrocytes, reinforcing the view that demyelination could, at least in part, result from primary damage in other cell types such as astrocytes, note Paris-based researchers Catherine Lubetzki and Bruno Stankoff in their chapter on Demyelination in Multiple Sclerosis in the new Handbook on Clinical Neurology on Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. The rest of the 2300-plus abstracts go public at 4 p.m. EDT, Thursday, February 27. (American Academy of Neurology, New England Journal of Medicine)
The February 2014 MS Research Update, produced by the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, sums up the state of modern MS treatment for health professionals and patients. The easy-to-read overview covers the 10 FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies for relapsing forms of MS. It reviews several dozen experimental treatments currently under investigation, including several for progressive forms of MS. Under New Directions in MS Research, the report features updated news about stem-cell research, therapies for myelin repair and protection, biomarkers, and genetic studies. (Note: Researchers wanting to dive deeper into details about investigational therapeutics can check out the MSDF Drug-Development Pipeline for the nitty-gritty on physiology, molecular mechanisms, and more.) (Multiple Sclerosis Association of America)
The Tao of Neuron Mapping
What does it take to succeed in science? Some reflections come in a profile of Seattle-based neuroscientist Clay Reid. From Reid himself: "Good biological intuition was equally important to chops in math and physics." And: "Torsten once said to me, 'You know, Clay, science is not an intelligence test.'" From his mentor, Nobel laureate Torsten Wiesel: "I think there are a lot of smart people who never make it in science. Why is it? What is it that is required in addition?" Intuition is important, he said, “knowing what kind of questions to ask." And: "The other thing is a passion for getting to the core of the problem." From former graduate student and Virginia-based researcher Davi Bock: "Mad scientist lab hands." And: "He has a deep gut level enthusiasm for what’s beautiful and what’s profound in neuroscience, and he’s kind of relentless." Don't forget the crystal ball. “That’s what Clay does,” Bock said. "He is really good in that Wayne Gretzky way of skating to where the puck will be." (New York Times)
MSers at FoxNews
By the end of the day on Tuesday, February 25, Janice Dean's personal essay at FoxNews.com about living with MS was more popular than anti-gun-control diatribes. Among the positive messages, the senior meteorologist for Fox News Channel says the company's support for her extends to building wheelchair ramps if necessary. An important pep talk came from Neil Cavuto, senior vice president, anchor, and managing editor of Fox News, who also had gone public with his illness. (FoxNews.com)
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