Newswise — Madison, Wis., Dec. 20, 2016 – A breakthrough in the understanding of how the body’s autoimmune system affects multiple sclerosis (MS) and information about a new, highly effective MS therapy will be presented at the America’s Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2017, Thursday, Feb. 23, in Orlando.

The discovery that depletion of B cells has an impact on MS enabled a paradigm shift in the understanding of how the inflammatory phase of MS develops, according to Stephen L. Hauser, M.D., Professor of Neurology and Director of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Hauser will present his findings at the Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture on the opening day of the forum.

The expected launch in early 2017 of ocrelizumab, the first B-cell therapy to be approved by regulatory agencies, will significantly alter the MS treatment landscape. “We now have a therapy with an attractive safety profile that is extremely effective against relapsing forms of MS. This also is the first therapy to show clear benefits against primary progressive MS. It’s an exciting moment,” says Hauser.

Hauser’s research exemplifies the collaboration between researchers and clinicians.

“The approach was conceptualized in the laboratory, tested at the bedside, then brought back to the laboratory,” Hauser says. “Some of our failures in drug development against neurologic diseases can be traced to an over-reliance on pre-clinical laboratory models. We improve our chances of success when we build strong bridges that connect the worlds of clinical medicine and laboratory-based research.”

The late Kenneth P. Johnson, M.D., University of Maryland, led the effort to found ACTRIMS in 1996. 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 2017, Feb. 23 – 25, at the Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando brings together North American researchers and clinicians to share developments in the rapidly changing field of MS. More information about the lecture and the forum appears on the event’s website at # # #

About ACTRIMSFounded in 1995, Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) is a community of leaders from the United States and Canada who are dedicated to the treatment and research in MS and other demyelinating diseases. ACTRIMS focuses on knowledge dissemination, education and collaboration among disciplines. ACTRIMS also provides a forum for experienced and newer clinicians and researchers to exchange information, debate current issues and discuss advances related to basic research and clinical issues.