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National Multiple Sclerosis Society Awards $44,000 To Support Research At UConn Health Center

FARMINGTON, Conn. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society awarded a grant for $44,000 to fund a pilot research project at the University of Connecticut (UConn) Health Center’s department of medicine in Farmington, Conn. The study explores a possible mechanism where naturally-occurring bacteria could trigger an immune attack in multiple sclerosis (MS).

“This research has opened a door of possibility," said Robert B. Clark, M.D., lead study researcher and associate professor of immunology in the UConn Health Center’s department of medicine. "The National MS Society's commitment to research is critical to find a cure.”

Multiple sclerosis is caused by immune T-cells that have been “programmed” to destroy the protective myelin on nerve fibers, causing symptoms that include numbness in the limbs, a debilitating sensitivity to heat, extreme fatigue, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness and, in severe cases, total paralysis.

Clark is studying bacteria that may instigate the T-cell attack against myelin in MS. Thus far, Clark has discovered that specific lipids, or molecules found in fats, produced by bacteria cause early onset and symptoms of an MS-like disease in mice. He is now testing whether the lipids interact with specific immune cells, eventually leading to the myelin-destroying T-cell reaction.

This research could identify a new mechanism for triggering the onset and exacerbations of MS and lead to further studies identifying new therapeutic approaches based on regulating these bacterial molecules.

“Research is key to finding a cure for multiple sclerosis,” said Lisa Gerrol, president of the Greater Connecticut Chapter. “This is a positive step forward to bring the fruit of our fundraising efforts back to the more than 6,000 Connecticut residents who battle the effects of MS.”

Through its home office and 50-state network of local chapters, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society funds research, provides services, furthers education and promotes public policy development on behalf of the more than 400,000 Americans living with MS. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Connecticut Chapter serves Connecticut residents diagnosed with MS and their families in the following counties: Hartford, Tolland, Windham, New London, Middlesex and New Haven.

For more information on the pilot research study or the programs and services offered by the Greater Connecticut Chapter, please visit http://www.ctfightsms.org/, e-mail programs@ctfightsms.org or call 860.714.2300.


For More Information
Contact Melissa Saranitzky
Communications Coordinator
Phone: 860.714.2300, ext. 239
E-Mail: msaranitzky@ctnmss.org


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