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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Systemic inflammation in progressive MS

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In this project we are investigating whether systemic infections can contribute to driving the progression of the progressive phase of multiple sclerosis.

In the majority of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) the disease begins as a relapsing remitting disease but over time becomes a progressive disease lacking relapses and remission phases. The progressive phase in MS is characterized by disability which impact on the quality of life, carries a huge economic burden and is currently untreatable. In preclinical models of multiple sclerosis we have shown that systemic inflammation results in axonal damage, which underlies disability. It is known that systemic infections can precipitate relapses but their effect on disease progression remains to be shown. We are carrying out a prospective study in individuals with progressive MS monitoring their immune responses to systemic inflammation. Disease progression is being monitored using magnetic resonance imaging and clinical measures. In this study we will establish whether there is a relationship between systemic infections and disease progression as this may offer a route to new therapeutic intervention.

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