On the Beat in Bluffton

Thursday, October 2, 2014

N-B Links: MS education session slated for Oct. 9

New research on multiple sclerosis will be the topic of an education session and networking event Oct. 9 at Bluffton Regional Medical Center.

The event features the work of Dr. Jui-Hung “Jimmy” Yen of the Indiana University School of Medicine – Fort Wayne. The free session is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the cafe of the hospital’s first floor.

At the Indiana University School of Medicine-Fort Wayne, research is ongoing on the effectiveness of DHA (which is form of omega-3 fatty acids – found in fish oil – on reducing the inflammatory response that is caused by this auto-immune disease), according to Jennifer Boen, director of the Anna Yoder MS Fund at the school.

"Our mission is to support research, education and outreach services for individuals and their families/caregivers who are impacted by MS," Boen said. "All the funds, which were given through an estate gift from (the Yoders), must be used right here in northeast Indiana."

"Few people are aware that basic science and clinical MS research are taking place in northeast Indiana," said Dr. Jui-Hung (Jimmy) Yen, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the IU School of Medicine-Fort Wayne. The med school is on the campus of IPFW in Fort Wayne. Yen is studying the therapeutic effects of Resolvin D1, a derivative of DHA, in reducing the inflammatory process in MS.

His research has shown a significant reduction in MS disease severity in animal models when no other therapeutic agent but Resolvin D1 is administered, Boen said.

Dr. Ajay Gupta and his colleagues at Fort Wayne Neurological Center in Fort Wayne are conducting MS clinical drug trials through the center’s research department, she added. In the near future, Gupta and Yen hope to collaborate on research of another MS drug in human clinical trials.

Learn more about the event and why it's coming to Bluffton in the Thursday, Oct. 2, News-Banner. Click here to learn more about MS, and take the quiz below for more information on the disease.

(Keep scrolling past questions for the answers.)

1. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the protective covering of the…
A. Muscles
B. Nerves
C. Fingernails and toenails

2. The number of individuals in the 10-county NE Indiana region living with MS is around…
A. 1,500
B. 3,500
C. 7,000

3. What causes MS is still not fully understood, but research shows the following likely plays some role:
A. Genetics
B. Environment
C. Immune response in the body
D. All of the above

4. MS symptoms vary widely. Among the more common symptoms are (note all that apply):
A. Double or blurred vision or vision loss.
B. Weight gain
C. Numbness or tingling
D. Balance problems
E. Difficulty walking
F. Hair loss

5. The incidence MS is greater in regions further away from the equator.
A. True B. False

6. One of the most common tests used today to help diagnosis MS is…
A. MRI of the brain
B. X-ray of the spine
C. White cell count of the blood

7. MS affects more men than women.
 A. True B. False

8. The majority of people with MS can expect to have a shortened lifespan.
A. True B. False

9. MS research is taking place in Fort Wayne, IN.
A. True B. False

1. Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that affects the myelin, or protective covering of the nerves in the brain and/or spinal cord.

2. 7,000 people in the 10-county NE Indiana region are living with MS.

3. D: All of the above – Scientists believe at least some MS cases have a genetic link. First, second and third degree relatives of people with MS are at increased risk of developing the disease; siblings of an affected person have a 2 percent to 5 percent increased risk of MS. Researchers theorize there is more than one gene involved and that some people may be born with a genetic predisposition to react to an environmental agent. There is consensus that something triggers an autoimmune response in the body that causes the deterioration of the myelin (the protective covering of the nerves) and the formation of scar tissue (sclerosis) along the nerves. Without the myelin, electrical signals transmitted throughout the brain and spinal cord are disrupted or halted. This affects the brain’s ability to send and receive messages. The communication breakdown causes the symptoms of MS.

4. A; C; D; E – Symptoms can vary widely from person to person and most people have the remitting-relapsing form of MS, meaning symptoms may flare up for a time, then improve, even disappear. With progressive forms of MS, the symptoms usually gradually worsen with decreasing or shortened symptom-free periods. Some people with MS may have few visible signs, which is why it is sometimes labeled as an “invisible disability.” MS can also affect speech, cognition and memory, and depression may result.

5. True – The disease is more common in regions further away from the equator. Scandinavian countries, Scotland, and countries in northern Europe have the highest rates. In the United States, there are 110-140 cases of MS per 100,000 people in the northern half of the nation compared to 57-78 cases per 100,000 population in the southern half of the country. Overall, in the U.S, 200 new cases of MS are diagnosed each week. Sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D, and some research has shown vitamin D can protect against MS symptom flare-ups. Thus, MS patients today are often prescribed high doses of vitamin D.

6. A; MRI of the brain – An MRI of the brain can detect lesions, or areas where plaque has formed due to scarring of the myelin. Though MRI is the gold standard for diagnosis, about 5 percent of patients with MS symptoms do not have brain lesions detected by MRI. Neurologists also complete a thorough history and physical exam. Onset of symptoms usually occurs between ages 20 and 40, but children can develop MS, though it is uncommon, and older adults may go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for several years before getting an accurate diagnosis. Before MRI scans became available, testing of the cerebrospinal fluid was usually done, but if lesions are seen on the MRI, a spinal tap may not be done. MS cannot be detected in the blood, but blood tests may be done to rule out other conditions. Doctors may also order electrical tests of the brain to see if MS has affected the visual, auditory or sensory pathways.

7. More women are affected by MS than men. For every one man who is diagnosed with MS, 2 to 3 woman are diagnosed. Exactly why is uncertain, but researchers think hormones may play a part. Testosterone may act as an immune response suppressor.

8. False – Most of the 2.5 million people worldwide with MS will have a normal life expectancy. However, those with progressive forms that cause significant disability may develop certain health conditions such as serious respiratory infections. Newer MS drugs are helping people live productive lives with better symptom control and fewer relapses. Still, as of now, there is no cure for MS.

9. True – MS research is ongoing at IU School of Medicine-Fort Wayne, on the campus of IPFW, thanks, in part, to funding from the Anna Yoder MS Fund. Dr. Jimmy Yen is studying the anti-inflammatory effects of DHA as well as examining anti-inflammatory response of other compounds

Sources: NIH; WebMD; National MS Society; and Dr. Ajay Gupta, Fort Wayne Neurological Center

Quiz provided by the Anna Yoder Fund.

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