MS Awareness Week spotlights Dallas-based research

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Dallas researchers speak out about ground-breaking research in support of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. (Curtsey of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Texas Chapter Facebook page)


Dallas-based research takes center stage Monday to Sunday for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week with life-changing findings revolutionizing diagnosis and treatment for the chronic autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis.

MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, and at least two to three times more women are diagnosed with the disease than men.

An unpredictable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and within the brain itself.

Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.

The progress, severity and symptoms of MS cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving experts closer to a world free of MS.

Local MS experts are speaking out about their ground-breaking research and calling for action to support the National MS Society.

Among local researchers advancing toward a cure for MS is SMU assistant professor and physiologist Scott Davis.

Davis conducts human-based research on SMU’s campus funded by grants from the National MS Society.

His work contributes to profound implications for understanding both the biology of MS and its impact on autonomic nervous system functions in those diagnosed with
the disease.

The main focus of Davis’ research is autonomic dysfunction specifically related to thermoregulation and blood pressure control in individuals with MS.

Working directly with people living with MS, his research aims to discover why their bodies react differently to factors such as temperature and exercise.

Davis also works to improve treatments available for minimizing disease symptoms
in patients.

In addition to Davis’ work, the National MS Society also funds local researcher Nancy Monson.

Monson is part of University of Texas Southwestern’s Clinical Center for Multiple Sclerosis which is recognized as a National MS Society Partner in Care.

UT Southwestern has one of the foremost comprehensive MS centers in the nation with more than 4,500 patients from North Texas and around the world.

“My ultimate goal is to eliminate this disease and not have MS patients to treat in the future, and our lab is on the cusp of finding the answer,” Monson said.

“Funding for our research is vital to finding a potential vaccination against the disease and cure, so we are thankful for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the community’s support of the upcoming Walk MS and Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride events to help get us there.”

Over the past three years Monson developed a validated pretesting method that diagnoses those living with MS by identifying carriers of the unique antibody gene that causes to the disease.

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Monson is also testing disease modifying therapies for MS patients in order to determine which therapies are most effective for a specific patient’s genes.

This research could reduce years of potential testing on treatments minimizing the diseases’ impact by going directly to effective targeted therapies.

Researchers are calling on supporters to take action and help fund life-saving efforts by participating in the organization’s upcoming Walk MS Dallas and Fort Worth and Bike MS Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride events in North Texas.

This MS Awareness Week, every connection counts. Volunteers, walkers, runners and bikers of all ages are welcome to get involved in one of the three upcoming North Texas Events.

Supporters can help fund lifesaving efforts by registering to participate in the organization’s Walk MS: Fort Worth at Trinity Park March 29 or Walk MS: Dallas at Addison Circle Park and participate in the 1-mile or 5k route to connect locally with people living with MS and others dedicated to finding a cure.

Those looking to get involved can also support the National MS Society for Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride May 3 – 4 for a two-day long journey along the scenic North Texas countryside.

Riders of all skill sets are encouraged to participate in the tour but must be at least 12 years old to attend.

Bike MS, Jr., sponsored by Geico invites children between the ages of 5 and 14 to ride at Texas Motor Speedway May 3, where the whole family can make a difference for those impacted by the disease.

The National MS Society addresses challenges faced by each person affected by MS.

To achieve this mission, the Society funds cutting-edge research in collaboration with MS organizations around the world.

In 2012, the Society invested $43 million supporting 350 research projects while providing programs and services that assisted more than one million people.

Leah Weatherl, vice president of development for the National MS Society in North Texas, benefits from new research not only professionally, but also personally.

“As a patient myself, it’s incredibly inspiring to see how far and how quickly research has advanced because of the National MS Society’s funding,” Weatherl said.

“Thanks to the groundbreaking research being conducted here in our own backyard in Dallas, we are confident that we will be able to help people to determine if they are at risk, and to more effectively treat people already living with MS.”

For more information about upcoming events or how to help support the National MS Society during National MS Awareness Week connect with National MS Society, Texas on Facebook or visit their website at MStexas.org.

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