The MS Breakthroughs keynote speaker, Dr. Jeffrey Dunn Professor of Clinical Neurology Chief, Division of Neuroimmunology at Stanford University gave a brief educational update on the progress of multiple sclerosis research. His presentation was full of positivity and most importantly gave those in attendance hope. He began his presentation by stating that MS research and clinical trials for new treatments and therapies have increased on a global scale. He stressed that collaboration on a national and global level is necessary to answer questions like: “What is the cause of MS? How do we stop MS progression? And how do we reverse symptoms and promote wellness?” Dr. Dunn then proposed that the disease name of “multiple sclerosis (multiple hard tissue hardening)” should be changed to “immune hypertension” because it is a more accurate representation of the disease pathology because MS is not just one disease but many. It was stated that identifying the specific immune pathways driving the disease can enable individually tailored treatments because current treatments work at different sites along the immunoinflammatory cascade. Currently, a blood test that says “this is MS and this is not” does not exist so, Dr. Dunn encouraged all MS patients in attendance to participate in any research where they can donate blood every week in hopes to discover a disease biomarker and map out the players in the individuals immunoinflammatory cascade. Additionally, the link between MS and gut microbiome was briefly explained. Project BIG (Brain Immune Gut) by Stanford University began back in 2018 to identify biomarkers of disease status and provide treatment approached based on personalized probiotics. Lastly, Dr. Dunn mentioned new therapies in development to treat MS. Siponimod, a selective S1P receptor modulator for oral use, for SPMS and Cladribine, a synthetic purine nucleoside, for PPMS are currently under review by the FDA.
The event was full of positivity, encouragement and hope, Team Mercaptor Discoveries had the honor to share a table with three beautiful individuals living with multiple sclerosis and their families.