The shortest day is now behind us! I love knowing that we are on the path to longer and warmer days. In the meantime, I am trying to make the most of my least favourite season. The things I do enjoy about winter are hot soups, cozy fires, and snuggling up at night with a good movie or book.
I hope you are keeping warm, dry and healthy. In this issue we have some interesting updates on local research. The University of Auckland has exciting research underway that has the potential to unlock the key towards better therapies and easier methods for diagnosing MS (imagine a simple blood test to determine if you have MS!) Anyone that has MS and that has had an MRI can help with this research. All that is required is 2 meetings and a bit of your blood.
Read on to find out more about getting involved in this exciting research and more!
In this issue:
1. New MS research at Auckland University – Your help is needed!
2. Donating your brain for science
3. MS Street Appeal
4. MS Workshops
1. New MS research being conducted at Auckland University– Your help is needed!
A research team in the School of Medical Sciences of Auckland University is conducting new and exciting research into the causes of blood brain barrier (BBB) compromise in patients with MS. The team is led by Dr Scott Graham (Project PI Centre for Brain Research) and Dr Jennifer Pereira (ADHB Neurologist), and also includes Dr Dan Kho (Centre for Brain Research) as the lead post-doctoral research fellow and liaison.
The team have recently discovered that some individuals with relapsing remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), with active disease, have factors present in their blood that can directly reduce the integrity of the BBB. A clinical feature of RRMS is the formation of new brain lesions that enhance with contrast injection on MRI. What causes this is a permeability of the BBB leading to increased immune cell infiltration into the brain. It is their hypothesis that the BBB leakiness is caused by circulating factors in the blood in individuals with MS. The goal of their research is to identify these factors as they may hold the key to better therapies in the future and may also offer more improved diagnostic tools for the determination of MS and response to therapy.
They are now ready to recruit individuals with MS in Auckland. To participate in the study (a) you must have a diagnosis of MS (any form of this disease) and (b) will receive an MRI scan as part of your clinical assessment. If you are interested, they would meet with you to discuss the research project, explain what your commitment would be and answer any questions. Essentially all they would require is a simple blood sample from you within a week of your MRI scan and then again in three months-time. Please contact:
2. The Neurological Foundation Douglas Human Brain Bank – Donating your brain for science
Researchers are looking to find the causes and potential cures for brain diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis. Human tissue is essential to find out what goes wrong in human brain disorders. The Neurological Foundation of New Zealand funds the Human Brain Bank, which is located at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research. It houses a collection of brain tissue, often including other tissue such as the spinal cord, which has been generously donated by families to research after the donor’s death. Brains donated are removed and stored in ways that optimize current and future research possibilities. The removal of the tissue must be performed rapidly after death. Respect and privacy of the donors and their families is maintained at all times by a dedicated team of brain bank staff.
Does the brain bank need my brain? People of all ages can register to bequeath their brain. Brains are required from people with neurological conditions, such as MS, and without neurological conditions, in order to compare with ‘normal’ brain tissue and ensure the research is always at the highest international standard. On occasions brains that have been bequeathed are unable to be accepted at the time of death due to technical and logistical reasons.
3. MS Awareness Week and Street Appeal
We also urgently need your help with our Annual Street Appeal. If you have just 2 hours to spare on Friday the 1st of September or Saturday the 2nd of September to help at one of our sites we would love to hear from you! If you have helped out in the past then you are on our list and we will be in touch to see if you can help out again at the same place. However if you have never helped before, we would love to hear from you. There are lots of sites to fill and many hands will make light work! Please contact Kirsty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. MS Workshops
a. Group Counselling, Whangaparāoa Peninsula – This course starts on Wednesday the 24th of July and will run each Wednesday for 6 weeks from 10am to 12 noon. There are only a few spaces left. If you are interested in finding out more information please act quickly so you don’t miss out. Contact Andrea at email@example.com.
b. Minimise Fatigue, Maximise Life – We will be running one more of these popular courses this year. It will be held in the central part of Auckland (the venue is still to be determined) and will run for 6 consecutive Saturdays starting on the 9th of September. If you are interested in finding our more about this course please contact Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep well, good people! Until next time,