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Research aims to prevent progressive stages of multiple sclerosis

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Issued:26/06/18

New research which aims to identify potential treatments for progressive stages of multiple sclerosis (MS) is underway at Sheffield Hallam University.

Scientists in the University's Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre (BMRC) have begun work on a new project which seeks to understand the biological processes in the brain that triggers the progressive phase of MS.

More than 100,000 people have MS in the UK, 85% of whom have relapsing remitting MS, where they have sudden attacks of symptoms which reduce over time and give way to a more progressive form of the condition, known as secondary progressive MS.  A smaller number of people, around 10% of people with MS, have primary progressive MS where the condition worsens quite rapidly over time, without any period of relapse and remission. 

There are very few treatments for the progressive stages of MS but thanks to funding from the National MS Society in the United States, the two-year project will see a team of Sheffield Hallam scientists using mass spectrometry to analyse post mortem brain tissue obtained from the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease Tissue Bank.

The analysis will help to identify differences in the chemical composition of the fatty material (lipids) within the white matter of the brain of both healthy people and those with primary or secondary progressive MS.

Professor Nicola Woodroofe.jpg

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Professor Nicola Woodroofe, head of Sheffield Hallam's Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre and project lead, said: "This research will provide a deeper understanding of lipid changes during the course of MS and possible new treatment strategies. We've already completed some preliminary research that has shown there is evidence of chemical differences in lipids in the apparently normal white matter of progressive MS cases.

"This latest funding will allow us to look at the different chemical compositions in much more detail. If we can characterise these differences we can then look at what treatments might be available to prevent or delay these as well as determine what triggers these changes."

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email s.duce@shu.ac.uk