MS Society funds second stage of myelin repair research

MS Society funds second stage of myelin repair research

07 Feb 2011

In December, we announced great news that scientists at the University of Cambridge had found a way of reversing damage to myelin using stem cells. The work was funded by the MS Society. Today we’re delighted to announce we’ve committed more than £2 million over the next five years to fund the second stage of this research. Professor Robin Franklin and his team at the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair will work collaboratively with world leading experts in MS (like those based at the MS Society Edinburgh Centre for Translational Research and the MRI unit at the Institute of Neurology) to carry out the next stage. In the first stage of the study researchers found a drug that could potentially repair myelin; in stage two they’ll: 1. test this treatment for how effective it is in people with MS, and at what dose 2. trial it for safety in people with MS 3. build on recent advances in myelin repair research, so it’s possible to identify more potential MS treatments in the future This next phase of the study will start in April 2011 and finish in 2016. If the work proves successful, further clinical trials in larger numbers of people will take place to reveal whether the potential treatment is safe and effective for people to use. Then it’ll then need to go through the necessary regulatory hurdles before it’s licensed and available. We’re still some way off a drug coming through, but these are positive steps. Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the MS Society, said: “We’ve been consistently impressed with the world class work of the Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair and we’re delighted that the generosity of our supporters enables us to continue funding this outstanding research centre.”

Charity offering free course for carers of people with mental ill health

Charity offering free course for carers of people with mental ill health
3:00pm Wednesday 9th February 2011

 By Natalie O’Neill »

A CHARITY is offering free advice to people caring for someone with mental ill health.

Caring4Carers will run its Reason to Hope courses on Tuesday nights from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Avenue House, in East End Road, Finchley.

The organisation was set up by Jeffrey Breslaw in 2002 to support family members and friends who look after individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, depressive disorders or mental ill health.

The course helps develop carer’s skills, including how best to communicate with the person they look after.

Talks will be given by psychiatrists, consultants and a pharmacist throughout the course.

Participants can discuss any problems they face as a carer, and will be put in contact with local and national resources including Rethink, a charity for people affected by severe mental illness.

Suzanne Clinton-Davis is an occupational therapist and helps run the course.

Mrs Clinton-Davis said: “It can really equip carers who are often hidden and unheard to care more effectively for their loved one and importantly begin to care for themselves.

“In doing this we also aim to help carers assist in their loved ones recovery.”

She added: “Groups will consist of no more than around 10 participants so that each person has time and attention given to them as they require.”

Reason to hope runs two courses per year and has taught over 170 people since its inception.

The next course will start on Tuesday March 1 and will last for 10 weeks.

To book a place contact Jeffrey Breslaw on 0208 906 1666 or send an email to

Prostate cancer ‘gene test’ hope

9 February 2011 Last updated at 07:41

Prostate cancer ‘gene test’ hope

Experts believe they can develop a genetic screening test that can tell doctors which men with prostate cancer need aggressive treatment.

Early trial results for Cancer Research UK suggest men with high levels of cell cycle progression (CCP) genes have the most deadly tumours.

The CCP test could potentially save men with milder forms of the disease from unnecessary treatment

Large-scale studies are now needed, the Lancet Oncology journal reports.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with new cases diagnosed in around 37,000 men every year.

At present, doctors can struggle to predict how aggressive tumours are and rely on tests and examinations that can be less than reliable.

For example, one of the tests currently used – the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test – can give a worrying result even if a cancer is not present.
Cancer Research UK estimates that about two-thirds of men with an elevated PSA level (measured as > 4ng/ml) will not have prostate cancer but will suffer the anxiety, discomfort and risk of follow-up investigations.

It’s for this very reason that UK experts have recommended against a screening programme for prostate cancer.

But experts from Queen Mary, University of London, hope their new CCP test – alongside existing tests like PSA – could be used routinely in the clinic to overcome this problem.

Greater accuracy

Professor Jack Cuzick, who led the research, said: “Our findings have great potential. CCP genes are expressed at higher levels in actively growing cells, so we could be indirectly measuring the growth rate and inherent aggressiveness of the tumour through our test.

“We already know that CCP levels can predict survival for breast and, more recently, brain and lung cancers.

“It’s really encouraging that this could also be applied to prostate cancer, where we desperately need a way to predict how aggressive the disease will be.”

His study, which included 703 men with prostate cancer, found CCP could predict likely disease outcomes.

In the study, men with the highest levels of CCP genes were three times more likely than those with the lowest levels to have a fatal form of prostate cancer.

And for patients who have had surgery to remove their prostate, those with the highest CCP levels were 70% more likely to have a recurrence of the disease.

Dr Helen Rippon, head of research management at the Prostate Cancer Charity, said the findings were promising but needed replicating in larger trials before the test could be considered for routine use.

“It will therefore be some time before men diagnosed with prostate cancer will see any direct benefit from this research,” she said.