Newswise — The unpredictable nature of multiple sclerosis and its range of severity means some individuals rapidly progress to a disabled state while others experience only mild symptoms. Dr. Peter Calabresi, professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Director of the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center, will present his team’s discovery of a possible link between severe damage and C3 and C1q gene variants, and how this information could lead to improvements in the ways MS and other neurodegenerative diseases are treated, during his keynote Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture on the opening day of the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2020.

Dr. Calabresi’s research findings offer promise for developing strategies to arrest disease progression and facilitate repair of the damage to myelin. While the genetic risk of MS is not new, his group has discovered that there may be genetic susceptibility to more severe damage. A second line of research in his laboratory hopes to explain why remyelination fails and offers opportunities to reprogram these cells to make myelin.

“While there are many immune-modulating therapies for relapsing and inflammatory forms of progressive MS, there is an unmet need for therapies that target non-inflammatory mechanisms of tissue injury,” Dr. Calabresi said. “Complement inhibition and suppression of inflammatory oligodendrocyte precursor cells are novel approaches that may directly address mechanisms of brain injury involved in progression of MS.”

Additionally, further study of progressive MS using sensitive biomarkers will allow researchers to define other pathways that can be targeted. These findings could lead to treatments for neurodegenerative diseases beyond MS.

The late Kenneth P. Johnson, M.D., University of Maryland, led the effort to found ACTRIMS in 1995. The Memorial Lecture honors Johnson by providing an opportunity for ACTRIMS audiences to hear from prestigious clinicians or researchers selected for their knowledge, accomplishments and contributions related to MS.

ACTRIMS Forum brings together more than 1,000 researchers and clinicians annually to share developments in the rapidly changing field of MS. The 2020 Forum will be held Feb. 27-29, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Florida. Themed “Networks in MS,” this CME-accredited meeting stands apart from many traditional medical meetings by offering a single track of scientific and clinical presentations in an interactive environment. More information about ACTRIMS Forum 2019, and the Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture, appears on the event’s website. Follow the event at #ACTRIMS.

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Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2020