Local Cardiff residents have been involved in developing a vital research programme that aims to identify what factors might lead to a person developing multiple sclerosis (MS). The study could pave the way for much needed new treatments in the condition, and has been offered a £40,000 grant from the MS Society.
Led by Professor Neil Robertson, Professor of Neurology at Cardiff University and Consultant Neurologist at University Hospital of Wales, the research will look at how a person’s genes affect the behaviour of their immune cells, which play a key role in the condition. It is hoped that this will help scientists develop new therapies to treat MS, which affects approximately 5,000 people in Wales.
People with MS from across South Wales were recruited to help develop the project and modify its design. This included the research being presented at the annual South Wales ‘Newly Diagnosed Day’, an MS Society initiative. Local people and their families were able to provide significant input into the project, to ensure it addresses their needs.
Professor Robertson commented: “Genetics play a key role in MS research. There are over 110 gene variants that are linked to the condition, but we don’t understand how they contribute to MS. This detailed examination of immune cells could help us understand how and why MS develops, and ultimately help us find new and better treatments for MS. Our local community has made a huge contribution to research over the years, and this is another example of how clinicians and people with MS can work together to help fight the condition.”
Professor Robertson and his team have committed to the continued involvement of Cardiff residents, including at the ‘Involving People Network’. Established by Health and Care Research Wales, this new initiative puts patients and carers at the heart of research policy and priorities in Wales, so they can help decide the future direction of more exciting projects like this.
Dr Sorrel Bickley is Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society:
“More than 100,000 people in the UK live with MS, so studies like this are desperately needed. We’re delighted that Professor Robertson involved the MS community in developing this project and has ensured it is fully aligned with their needs. Research like this brings us one step closer to new and better treatments, and to a better outlook for those living with the condition every day.”
The MS Society has announced it is committed to raising over £2 million in research funding this month, which will go towards vital new projects in MS. For more information about the MS Society and its research projects go to www.mssociety.org.uk