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In This Issue
Winter Research News
Live Webcast: "From the Frontlines: What's New in MS Research for 2012"
National MS Society's Volunteer Hall of Fame in Research
Newly Funded Local MS Research
Interview with Manzoor Bhat, Ph.D

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March 2 - 4, 2012


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"Cognition and MS" Program

Dec. 12


"Social Security Disability and MS" Teleconference

Dec. 13


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Jan. 10, 2012


"Genetics, Genomic Medicine and MS" Teleconference

Feb. 14, 2012


"Mindfulness Meditation" Teleconference

Mar. 13, 2012


Winter 2011
As a member of the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, we know you're interested in the latest developments taking place in MS research.


To keep you abreast of information and news in this

ever-changing field, you are receiving this quarterly research newsletter.  It will inform you of both local and national news, local clinical trials and updates on research projects. 


We hope you find this newsletter useful. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us at 1-800-FIGHT-MS or visit our website.




Kaye Gooch

Executive Vice President of Programs & Services

Eastern North Carolina Chapter   



Winter Research News


More than 7,000 investigators convened in Amsterdam on October 19-22, 2011 to present findings at a joint congress of ECTRIMS (European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS) and ACTRIMS (Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in MS). Click here to find out the latest highlights of this conference. 


Learn more about the Multiple Sclerosis Emerging Therapies Collaborative, which includes the members of the MS Coalition, the American Academy of Neurology, and the VA Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence East and West. Click here for more information on this group. 


For more information on the positive results from a Phase 3 study on Alemtuzumab, click hereAlemtuzumab has been designated by the FDA as a "Fast Track Product," which should expedite its future review.


Read the January 2011 issue of MS in Focus, the flagship publication of the MS International Federation. This issue covers "Research in MS."  Click here for that issue.


More Research News

Live Webcast: "From the Frontlines: What's New in MS Research for 2012."

On December 13, 2011, join a panel of experts for a live nationwide webcast "From the Frontlines: What's New in MS Research for 2012."  Topics will include
Research to Watch in 2012, Emerging Therapies, Vitamin D, CCSVI, and Stem Cell Therapy. Click here for details on how to register. 

National MS Society's Volunteer Hall of Fame in Research

Each year at our national conference, volunteers are recognized for their service to the chapter and for their involvement in research for multiple sclerosis. The chapter is happy to announce that Glenn Matsushima, Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill was inducted into the National MS Society's Volunteer Hall of Fame in Research. To find out more about this honor, click



Newly Funded Local MS Research


Congratulations to Jenny Ting, Ph.D. and Manzoor Bhat, Ph.D. for receiving funding from the National MS Society. Their grants started October 1. 


Dr. Ting's research, "The roles of new innate immune mediators in neuroinflammation" looks at studying new ways to prevent the immune system from attacking myelin in animal models of MS.   


Dr. Bhat's research, "Disorganization and re-organization of axonal domains in myelinated axons" will study changes in nerve fiber structure that affect the function of nerves for clues to preventing disability in MS.  


This brings the total research dollars in the Eastern NC Chapter to almost 4 million dollars!  For more information on this research and other newly funded research click here.

Interview with Local MS Researcher Manzoor Bhat, Ph.D 


Q: You were recently awarded a research grant from the National MS Society. What will this grant allow you to do?


We feel honored to receive this grant award from the National MS Society, as funding is essential for any scientific progress. With this funding, we will be able to pursue new areas of research that will enable us to understand how the interactions between glia and neurons affect nerve function in MS. Many factors contribute to MS, the largest being the immune factor, but how neurons begin to degenerate and the hallmarks to identify the initial insult are not well understood. We hope that our work will help to provide new insight into MS onset and progression by studying on a finer genetic scale how small changes in protein expression contribute to nerve function or dysfunction. We also hope to gain information concerning the ability of neurons and glia to re-establish interactions after insult, which will provide valuable knowledge that may be used in understanding a timeline in which individuals with MS need to be treated in order to see any positive effect in abating the physical characteristics associated with MS, such as immobility, muscle weakness and paralysis.


Q:  Can you explain in layman's term your research "Disorganization and re-organization of axonal domains in myelinated axons?"

Our lab is interested in how neurons, the conductive cells in our body, interact with glia, the cells responsible for wrapping or insulating the neurons in the process called myelination. When glia wrap, or myelinate the neurons, they create discrete "domains" within the neuron/axon that are comprised of specific protein complexes. In many demyelinating diseases, like multiple sclerosis, these protein complexes are compromised, resulting in their disorganization and eventually the degeneration of the nerve. Our lab is focused on identifying novel proteins and protein complexes that are required to organize and stabilize these "domains." With the National MS Society grant, we will focus on understanding how loss of these domains in adults alters the domain organization, stabilization and nerve function. Furthermore, we will analyze the ability of these domains to reorganize, and how this reorganization takes place. 


Q: How did you get started researching MS and what interests you about the disease? 


Our research has always focused around how glia and neurons interact, and how specific axonal domains are organized. Myelin is such an essential component for proper nervous system function that damage to myelin results in devastating neurological consequences. So, diseases like multiple sclerosis, in which the myelin is damaged and glia lose their ability to interact with neurons, have always interested me. Furthermore, axonal domain disorganization appears to be a hallmark or first insult in many demyelinating diseases, suggesting that it is extremely important for the overall health of the nerves. Recent work in our lab has focused on an intriguing group of proteins that are expressed in both glia and neurons and are required for proper axonal domain organization. These proteins were also implicated in MS, in which it was found that autoantibodies were produced against this subset of proteins. The binding of these autoantibodies would prevent the interaction of glia with neurons and thus lead to disorganization of domains. What one could imagine is that constant exposure of the nerve to these autoantibodies would prevent the reformation of the domains, thus in turn would result in the progressive decline of nerve function, a similar physical characteristic that is observed in individuals with chronic MS. 


Q: How do you feel the MS Society plays a role in MS research?


The MS Society plays a vital role in supporting MS Research and without it we would not have as many scientific advancements as we have today. With the economy declining, and governmental funding being cut, private funding agencies geared towards disease research, like the MS Society, are needed to keep important research going. Without funding and support there would be no research and in turn, no timely advances can be made in disease treatment, disease prevention and the constant attempt to find a cure.


Q: Is there anything else about your work that you would like the readers to know?


Yes, I would like the families with a loved one with MS or supporters of MS research to continue to lead the way in supporting not only the clinical research on MS, but also the fundamental research that is relevant to MS. When we together pursue both these fronts we will get a better understanding of this disease and its consequences on human health. It is not just the individual with MS who is affected- this disease puts tremendous strain on relationships, families and the society. We hope that our research will help in the future to find ways to prevent nerve degeneration in MS.