New collaborative on multiple sclerosis aims to slow progression of disease

October 29, 2012 by Storee

Despite significant progress in the development of treatments for people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), there are few treatment options for people with progressive forms of MS. The newly formed International Collaborative on Progressive MS has published an opinion paper outlining challenges in developing therapies for progressive MS and identifying key research priorities to propel efforts to stop MS progression. National MS society

The Collaborative is the greatest effort to date aiming at speeding research on progressive MS, and is formed of the MS Societies of Canada, Italy, Netherlands, the UK and the US, and the MS International Federation. The paper, by lead author Robert J. Fox, MD (Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis, Neurological Institute, and Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic) and colleagues, identifies five key priority areas for research, and was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal (Online First, August 23, 2012).

“Overcoming the challenges of progressive MS is a key objective of the Society’s Strategic Response to MS,” says Timothy Coetzee, PhD, Chief Research Officer of the National MS Society and member of the Collaborative. “This is just one of the ways we’re collaborating worldwide to speed clinical trials in progressive MS.”

The hopes of most people who have MS today rest on finding a way to stop disease worsening and reverse the damage to restore lost functions. MS progression can be slow or it can be fast, but most agree that it occurs in the majority of those who have the disease, even those successfully treated for relapses.

There’s been a great deal of progress in treating relapsing forms of MS, with many FDA-approved therapies. But for every new therapy approved for relapsing forms of MS, people with progressive MS, for whom there are few significant treatment options, feel left behind. Virtually every therapy approved for relapsing MS has been tested, or is now in testing, in people with progressive forms of the disease. Up to now, clinical trials involving people with relapsing MS often rely on counting relapses or doing MRI scans to detect immune activity. The fact that there is no easy way to detect progression quickly is one reason why drug development for progressive MS is behind.

The mission of the International Collaborative on Progressive MS is to expedite the development of effective disease modifying and symptom management therapies for progressive forms of MS. To do so, research efforts are needed on several fronts to lay the groundwork needed to identify possible therapeutic targets and conduct clinical trials aimed at stopping progression of the disease.

For Utahns with MS looking for help, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Utah-Southern Idaho Chapter has a new local representative, Chelsey Banks. Contact her at 801-424-0113 or by email at Learn more about the organization at and

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Cache Valley National Children’s Study expands data collection

December 6, 2011 by cpehrson

Hea photos of a young mom and dad with their little boy; all smiling and happy

The National Children’s Study in Cache County is pleased to announce the expansion of our data collection to include environmental and biologic samples.   Due to the enthusiastic and professional performance of the local team at Utah State University, Cache County is one of the first locations in the country to implement expanded field visits. The visits now include environmental sampling of water and dust, as well as biological sampling of maternal blood and urine. This sampling occurs in coordination with confidential interviews that include both mothers and fathers before and after a child is born.  We anticipate additional samples to be added in early 2012.

In cooperation with Logan Regional Hospital, cord blood and placenta samples are now collected when Study participants give birth.  Birth interviews conducted by Study staff continue as well.

The response of Cache County families to the National Children’s Study has been overwhelming.  We have enrolled more than 700 families since the beginning of 2011 and the study appreciates their willingness to share their most private information in order to improve the health and well-being of children.

The National Children’s Study will examine the effects of the environment, including the physical, chemical, biologic, and psycho-social exposures, on children from before birth until age 21.

For more information on how you can help this groundbreaking study, visit the Cache National Children’s Study online or call 435-797-KIDS.


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November: National Family Caregiver month

November 1, 2011 by cpehrson

The true strength of the American family finds its roots in an unwavering commitment to care for one another (President Barack Obama).

Each year  since 1944, our nation has shown their appreciation for family caregivers by honoring them during the month of November. This year’s National Family Caregivers‘ theme is Identifying Family Caregivers.

There are over 65 million family caregivers in this country.  Family caregivers are an important part of a loved one’s medical team.  They are the ones most familiar with their family member’s medicine schedule; they know the most about the treatment(s) received, both past and present; and they are the only people consistently present across all of their loved ones’ care settings,

Despite the huge role family caregivers’ play in the care of their loved ones, family caregivers are often invisible in American healthcare. Medical intake forms do not note whether someone has a family caregiver. Family caregiver’s needs are not discussed during office visits.

Celebrating family caregivers during this month helps to acknowledge their efforts and raise awareness of family caregiver issues.

In order to understand the challenges that caregivers face and to increase support for them,  there will be a  blog posted each week during the month of November.

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Celebrating Motherhood-Birth options seminar

October 31, 2011 by cpehrson

The National Children’s Study-Cache Valley is hosting a health seminar on November 5, 2011, from 10:00 – 2:00 at the USU Extension Office, 179 N. Main Street, Suite 109, Logan, Utah.

The topic is Celebrating Motherhood-Birth Options.  This seminar is designed to help women who are pregnant or thinking about having a baby sort through the options surrounding pregnancy and childbirth.

Speakers include Dr. Brian Carlson, a family physician, who will be speaking about the care provided both in office visits as well as during labor and delivery.  D’Anne Moon from the Cache Valley Women’s Center, will discuss birthing plans – what are they, how to create one and how to communicate it during labor.  She will also be speaking as a certified nurse midwife who works in conjunction with physicians, joined by Anne Pico, who is a direct entry midwife.  Dolores Michael, who is a dula, will speak about comfort measures during labor – ways to manage your pain naturally.  The La Leche League will also be presenting information about the benefits of breastfeeding.

This is the first in a series of health information seminars geared toward pregnant women.  The NCS-Cache Valley plans is to hold the Birthing Options seminar annually or biannually, as well as another seminar on issues facing a family immediately after the birth of a child. Possible topics include choosing a child care provider, post partum depression, exercise,  breastfeeding and weaning.
If you are interested in learning more about the National Children’s Study, or would like to participate in it, you can go to the NCS website.

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