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Young MS Researchers Earn Awards at ACTRIMS Forum 2018

March 5, 2018

Five young investigators were awarded by The Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) for their research on multiple sclerosis. The main goals of the ACTRIMS Forum have been to promote the research conducted by these young investigators, for them to interact with established researchers and clinicians, and to encourage knowledge sharing and advances in the MS field.

Some main goals of their studies included finding out whether those who experience the onset of puberty at a younger age have a higher chance to develop MS, given that contradictory results have been reported on that hypothesis.

Some of these young investigators and their awards included titles such as “Best Young Investigator Oral Presenter” given to Adil Harroud, MD, for his study “Effect of Age at Puberty on Risk of Multiple Sclerosis: A Mendelian Randomization Study”.

The team wrote, “Puberty attainment marks a dramatic increase in MS incidence and the emergency of a female predominant sex ratio, suggesting that it may be a defining period in MS etiology.”

A meta-analysis was conducted based on genetic variants strongly associated with age with the first menstrual cycle in a large genome-wide association that involved 329,245 women. A one-year decrease in the age of puberty increased the odds of MS development by 8 percent.

Although, after taking into account the effect of each woman’s body mass index (BMI) in correlation to puberty, the direct effect of age on MS susceptibility was lost. This displayed that the risk of MS is increased when the age at puberty onset is genetically decreased. While largely mediated by the effects of puberty timing of BMI, researchers concluded that “the pathways underlying a possible effect of age at puberty on disease course and severity remain unclear.”

Other awards were given to young investigators Kirsten Evonuk, PhD, Cleveland Clinic, for the study “Selective Deletion of AMPA Receptors on Oligodendrocytes Prevents Demyelination and Axonal Injury in Autoimmune Demyelination“ and Patrick Duncker, BS, University of Michigan, for his work “CCL6 Is Induced in CNS-Infiltrating Myeloid Cells By a GM-CSF Dependent Pathway, Driving Chronic Disability during EAE“.

Elias Sotirchos, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, for his study “Effects of Disease-Modifying Therapy on Brain Compartment Atrophy Rates — a 5-Year Study;” and Marc Charabati, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, for his study “Mcam on the BBB Contributes to Neuroinflammation by Promoting the Recruitment of Encephalitogenic T Lymphocytes into the Central Nervous System” were recognized as the best poster presenters.