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MS Blog & Podcast

Feb 27 2024 MS Living Well Podcast: Hormones and Multiple Sclerosis

Sex hormones, such as estrogens and testosterone, affect each individual’s journey living with multiple sclerosis. While both genders face equal MS risk before puberty and after menopause, women experience up to three times higher risk during their reproductive years. Pregnancy generally brings less relapses, potentially attributed to high estriol levels. However, navigating treatment decisions well while trying to conceive and after delivery requires finesse and expertise. Equip yourself with the latest women’s health info regarding MS, covering topics from birth control and fertility treatments to menopause and osteoporosis.

Testosterone has important anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits in multiple sclerosis.  Nevertheless, men are at higher risk for disability progression then women. Declining testosterone levels over time (called andropause) and Y chromosome genes may tilt the scales towards disability. Listen to current testosterone research including potential remyelination benefits.

This podcast episode is sponsored by TG Therapeutics.

Barry Singer MD, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Maria Houtchens MD

Maria Houtchens MD, the founding director of the Women’s Health Program at the Brigham MS Center in Boston and Associate Professor of Harvard Medical School. She also is the founder of PREG-MS (a collaborative New England MS pregnancy registry) and a founding board member of the MS-CERCH, an international consortium of the MS Centers of Excellence in Reproductive and Child Health. She completed both her residency and neuroimmunology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  As a global leader in health related to women living with multiple sclerosis, Dr. Houtchens continues to research, publish and direct global educational efforts.

Jorge Correale MD

Jorge Correale MD, Head of Neuroimmunology and Demyelinating Diseases at the Dr. Raúl Carrea Institute of Neurological Research in Buenos Aires since 1997. Dr. Correale completed neuroimmunology fellowships at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the University of Southern California. He is currently the Deputy Chair of the MS International Federation. He previously served as Vice President and President of the Argentine Neurological Society (2008-2012) and President of LACTRIMS (2014-2016). Dr. Correale has authored greater than 250 articles and greater than 50 chapters. His research is focused on the role of environmental factors and sex hormones on the development and progression of multiple sclerosis.

Jan 30 2024 MS Living Well Podcast. Revolutionizing Multiple Sclerosis Care: B-Cell Therapy

B cells traveling inside the circulation with red blood cells.

In a paradigm-shifting discovery, researchers uncovered that B cells, not T cells, wield significant influence on orchestrating neurological damage in MS. Join UCSF Professor Dr. Stephen Hauser as he shares the remarkable odyssey from hurdles to triumphs of developing B cell monoclonal antibody treatment for multiple sclerosis. Disease impact, safety concerns and personalization of MS treatment of these medications including Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), Kesimpta (ofatumumab) and Briumvi (ublituximab) are highlighted.

Brain-penetrant BTK inhibitor therapies that may offer more direct targeting of B cells within the central nervous system, potentially unlocking new possibilities in treating progressive forms of MS. Professor Heinz Wiendl explores the connection between Epstein-Barr virus infection of B cells and the initiation and progression of MS including trials investigating strategies to target EBV-infected B cells. Pioneering approaches like CAR-T therapy and brain shuttle techniques provide optimism for the next generation of MS treatment.

This podcast episode is sponsored by TG Therapeutics.

Barry Singer MD, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Stephen Hauser MD

Dr. Stephen Hauser, Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Director of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. He served as chairman of the Department of Neurology at UCSF for 25 years. Dr. Hauser is a graduate of MIT and Harvard Medical School. His work led to the development of B cell therapies for MS patients. Dr. Hauser is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He authored The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries, his memoir about his 40-year quest to find a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Heinz Wiendl MD

Dr. Heinz Wiendl, Professor of Neurology and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital of Muenster in Germany. He completed his medical training in Erlangen, Germany, Basel, Switzerland and Durham, North Carolina at Duke.  He has published over 350 peer-reviewed journal articles. His research is dedicated to understanding immune regulation and the functional interaction between the immune and the nervous system.

Dec 19 2023 MS Living Well Podcast. Recipe for Resilience: The Blind Cook and NMOSD

Christine Ha, The Blind Cook with NMOSD

Christine Ha, an award-winning blind chef and restauranteur, shares her experience grappling with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD). Facing relapses with the inability to walk and feed herself that challenged her independence, she leaned on the support from family and friends. As she lost her sight due to optic neuritis in both eyes, Ms. Ha had to embark on a journey of rediscovery in the kitchen, starting with the fundamentals. Winning MasterChef Season 3 marked a turning point, propelling her culinary career forward despite the obstacles posed by her disability.

NMOSD is an autoimmune disease in which an antibody attacks water channels on astrocyte cells in the optic nerves, spinal cord and sometimes the brain. Attacks or relapses can be devastating and incomplete recovery from attacks is typical.  Like Ms. Ha, some people living with the condition can be misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis. A blood test for the aquaporin-4 antibody is key to getting diagnosed correctly early. Since 2019, highly effective treatment options have been FDA-approved that reduce relapses by 77-94%.

This podcast episode is sponsored by Amgen.

Barry Singer MD, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Christine Ha is a blind chef living with NMOSD. Her culinary career was launched by winning MasterChef season 3 with Gordon Ramsay. Her first cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen, was a New York Times best-seller. She obtained a master’s degree in Creative Writing Program at University of Houston. Ms. Ha’s first restaurant in Houston, The Blind Goat, was named a semi-finalist for 2020 Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation. She was also named a James Beard finalist for Best Chef in Texas in 2022.

Michael Levy MD PhD

Michael Levy MD PhD is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Neuroimmunology Clinic and Research Laboratory. He received his MD and PhD at Baylor College of Medicine and completed his neurology residency and neuroimmunology fellowship at Johns Hopkins.

Oct 10 2023 MS Living Well Podcast. Making Strides: Enhancing MS Mobility

Wherever you are on your multiple sclerosis journey, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of mobility. Our experts, both holding doctorates in physical therapy, offer invaluable guidance on enhancing your walking abilities through targeted exercise and specialized therapy. Learn how to reduce the risk of falls, alleviate spasticity, and build endurance for a more active life.

Cutting-edge technology, from wearable electrical stimulation devices to incredible exoskeletons, are revolutionizing mobility for those living with MS. Discover how neuromodulation, in conjunction with physical therapy, can pave the way for new neural pathways. Virtual reality and anti-gravity treadmills are redefining therapy options for those people with advanced MS. Moreover, gain insights into conquering travel challenges, empowering individuals living with multiple sclerosis to venture out into the world.

This is episode is sponsored by CIONIC.

Barry Singer, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Gretchen Hawley DPT

Gretchen Hawley DPT is a physical therapist and multiple sclerosis certified specialist since 2013. She received a Bachelor of Science degree at Elmira College in Upstate New York obtained a Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree from Simmons University in Boston.  As a leader in virtual physical therapy, she founded The MSing Link, an online platform for individualized therapy and exercise.  Dr. Gretchen is both an author and podcaster, sharing her insights into mobility for those living with multiple sclerosis.

Annie Morrow DPT

Annie Morrow DPT graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2014 from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.  She is Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy. In 2021, she became the Director of the Stephen A. Orthwein Center, a fully accessible fitness center in St. Louis, featuring state-of-the-art equipment for individuals with disabilities. Her clinical interests include gait and balance impairments as well as exercise for individuals with progressive diseases.

Sep 12 2023 MS Living Well Podcast. MS Care Equity: Empowering Underserved Communities

Health equity represents the pursuit of the highest level of well-being for all individuals, ensuring that every person, regardless of their background, enjoys a fair and just opportunity to achieve their optimal health.

Disparities exist within the multiple sclerosis community. It’s a stark reality that Black individuals with MS face an increased risk of disability, while Black women are disproportionately affected by this condition compared to their White counterparts based on a Kaiser study.  Additionally, Hispanic patients often contend with an earlier onset of MS, occurring 3-5 years before it typically manifests in White individuals. Both social determinants of health and genetic factors play significant roles in shaping outcomes for these communities. Strategies to enhance MS care in underserved communities include increasing the availability of healthcare providers, providing crucial translation services, and addressing biases both within the healthcare team and the communities they serve.

Rural MS patients experience unique challenges, often encountering barriers in accessing specialized care.  Connecting lower-income patients to vital resources, including medications and MRI scans, is essential. Innovative approaches like telehealth and improved transportation options can bridge the gap for those with higher levels of disability. As an MS community, we can all advocate to ensure that everyone regardless of their circumstances receives the comprehensive care that they deserve.

This podcast episode is sponsored by EMD Serono.

Lilyana Amezcua MD

Lilyana Amezcua MD is an Associate Professor of Neurology and the fellowship program director at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine. She received her undergraduate degree from University of California Irvine and her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, followed by neurology residency and clinical fellowship in neuroimmunology and multiple sclerosis at USC. She spearheaded the collaborative research consortium Alliance for Research in Hispanic MS (ARHMS) and serves as principal investigator. Dr. Amezcua serves on numerous national and international committees including as an elected member to the NMSS National Medical Advisory Committee and NIH NINDS Health Disparities Strategic Steering Committee.

Dr. Jacqueline Rosenthal

Jacqueline Rosenthal MD joined Shepherd Center’s medical staff in July 2019 and treats patients in Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis Institute. Dr. Rosenthal graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans and received her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. She completed her residency in neurology at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington. She completed her fellow in neuroimmunology at Emory University School of Medicine and at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

Aug 22 2023 MS Living Well Podcast. Bridging MS: Connecting You to Resources

Navigating life with multiple sclerosis? Gain valuable insights from MS insiders! Stanford nurse practitioner Jong-Mi Lee reveals strategies for accessing MS centers and maximizing available resources. Acquire valuable tips on various topics including overcoming mobility challenges, managing workplace issues, and receiving quality care despite insurance obstacles.

Many inspiring and resilient individuals living with MS actively share their perspectives on social media platforms within the MS community. Dominic Shadbolt, a renowned MS patient advocate and founder of The MS Guide, highlights his personal favorites and provides essential advice for sifting through the wealth of online information.

Access reliable knowledge and support from global non-profit organizations. Dr. Jaime Imitola, esteemed MS neurologist and Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Connecticut, offers practical approaches to surmount financial barriers and attain crucial MS treatments.

Link to key resources

This podcast episode is sponsored by Octave.

 

Barry Singer MD, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Jong-Mi Lee NP

Jong-Mi Lee NP is a nurse practitioner, specializing in multiple sclerosis at Stanford in California since 2005. Ms. Lee completed her undergraduate degree from University of California at Berkeley and her Master of Science in Nursing at Samuel Merritt University. She serves on the MSAA’s Healthcare Advisory Council and a long-standing member of the International Organization of MS Nurses including former West Regional Liaison. Ms. Lee received the 2010 Community Partner Award from the National MS Society for dedicated service on behalf of persons living with MS.

Dominic Shadbolt

Dominic Shadbolt is an expert patient living in the United Kingdom who has been living with multiple sclerosis since 1994. He started theMSguide.com as a patient-to-patient resource for people living with MS.

 

Jaime Imitola MD

Jaime Imitola MD is an Associate Professor of Neurology and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Neurology at the University of Connecticut. He serves as director of the Division of Multiple Sclerosis and Translational Neuroimmunology. He completed his medical school training in Cartagena, Columbia followed by post-doctoral training at Harvard, neurology residency at Temple University and fellowship in MS at Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia. His areas of expertise include neural stem cells and progressive MS.

Aug 1 2023 MS Living Well Podcast. MRI in MS: From Pixels to Progress

Step into the powerful realm of MRI imaging, providing us with an unparalleled view of multiple sclerosis. Discover how acute inflammation becomes vivid with contrast, and how various MRI sequences unveil the past battles fought within your brain and spinal cord. We’ll explore advances in techniques, revealing brain shrinkage, gray matter disease and myelin repair. Understand the impact of MS on brain processing efficiency during rest and specific tasks through functional MRI imaging. Crucial questions regarding where and how often to get MRI scans are addressed. Latest guidance on avoiding contrast for routine MRI monitoring in MS shared.

This podcast episode is sponsored by Octave.

 

Barry Singer MD, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Robert Zivadinov MD, PhD

Robert Zivadinov MD PhD is Director of the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC) since 2003. Dr. Zivadinov is Professor of Neurology at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He also is Director of the University’s Center for Biomedical Imaging at the Clinical Translational Science Institute.  Under his leadership, BNAC has performed over 90 Preclinical and clinical Phase I-IV trials involving over 15,000 subjects and 50,000 imaging scans.

Dr. Christina Azevedo

Christina Azevedo MD is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Southern California. Dr. Azevedo attended college at University of Notre Dame and medical school at Oregon Health & Science University. She then completed her neurology residency at Dartmouth, a Sylvia Lawry fellowship in clinical MS and Neuroimaging at Yale and a Master’s degree in Public Health at Yale. Her area of expertise is use of MRI imaging in multiple sclerosis.

Jul 11 2023 MS Living Well Podcast. Inside MS: Navigating Inflammation

Dive into a deeper understanding of the role of inflammation in causing injury to the brain and spinal cord in multiple sclerosis. It’s a journey marked by ups and downs, where the adaptive immune system composed of lymphocytes (T and B cells) attack myelin and the innate immune system clears damaged myelin. An immune cell called microglia can create smoldering inflammation in MS that poses a threat of progressive disability.

Explore the arsenal of MS treatment strategies developed over the past 3 decades to either alter or suppress the immune system to reduce inflammation. Triumphs and limitations of our current MS therapies shared. Antioxidant research, diet and new therapeutics tackling smoldering inflammation bring newfound hope.

Episode is sponsored by EMD Serono.

Prof. Klaus Schmierer

Klaus Schmierer MB BS, PhD, FRCP is a Professor of Neurology at the Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London, and Consultant Neurologist at The Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, where he is the Research Lead for Neurology. He completed his neurology training at the Charité Hospital at Humboldt University in Berlin. His MS research interests include epidemiology and cause(s) of MS, quantitative MRI imaging and clinical trials.

Michael Kornberg MD PhD

Michael Kornberg MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at John Hopkins. He completed college at Yale University. He received M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and stayed at Johns Hopkins for neurology residency and a clinical and research fellowship in neuroimmunology. Dr. Kornberg conducts research aimed at better understanding the processes that drive MS progressive disability such a neurodegeneration and remyelination failure.

Jun 20 2023 MS Living Well Podcast: Multiple Sclerosis in Childhood

 

Yes, children can get multiple sclerosis. Children ages 12 and up are more typically affected and rarely before age 8.  Awareness is essential for prompt diagnosis and treatment of pediatric-onset MS (POMS).  Accurate diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in children requires screening for other conditions like MOG antibody-associated disease (MOGAD). Risk factors associated with higher rates of developing MS in kids include Epstein-Barr virus infection, genetic susceptibility, pesticide exposure, smoking (and secondhand smoke), low vitamin D, obesity and diet high in saturated fats.

Multiple sclerosis in kids can be very active with frequent relapses and concerning MRI activity. Rapid use of highly effective treatment is important to preserve brain health including cognition. Completed and ongoing global pediatric trials are redefining care. Oral fingolimod, for example, reduced relapses by 82% compared to interferon beta-1a injections weekly. Thanks to treatment advancements, teens living with MS have a brighter future ahead of them.

This podcast episode is sponsored by Octave.

Barry Singer, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Brenda Banwell MD

Brenda Banwell MD is Chief of the Division of Neurology and Co-Director of the Neuroscience Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She is a Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario, a pediatric neurology residency at the University of Toronto-The Hospital for Sick Children and a fellowship at Mayo Clinic.  Dr. Banwell advocates for pediatric multiple sclerosis patients as the Chair of the International Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Study Group and as Director of the International Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation.

Emmanuelle Waubant MD PhD

Emmanuelle Waubant MD, PhD is a Professor of Neurology at the University of California San Francisco and serves as director of the UCSF Regional Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center. She studies environmental and genetic risk factors, including in children with the disease. A native of France, Dr. Waubant completed a residency in neurology at Toulouse University Hospital and a fellowship training in neuroimmunology at UCSF. She chairs the clinical trial task force and serves on the steering committee of the International Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Study Group.

May 30 2023 MS Living Well Podcast: Being Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

Julian Gamboa shares his first symptoms of multiple sclerosis including spinning sensation and double vision. He had substantial obstacles and setbacks in being diagnosed including a prolonged hospitalization. After being in a very low place, Julian rallied with the support of others including his family. He conveys how he eventually obtained superb MS care and utilizing his social media guru skills to help others being diagnosed with MS.

Dr. Jakai Nolan

Dr. Jakai Nolan opens up about her own unique insights on being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis since she is both a neurologist specializing in multiple sclerosis and a person living with MS. As she shares her own personal story, she reviews key symptoms suggestive of MS and the importance of advocating for prompt evaluation to prevent a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Nolan covers treatment selection, mental health concerns and lifestyle modifications for someone recently diagnosed.

This podcast episode is sponsored by Octave.

Barry Singer MD, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care, interviews:

Julian Gamboa

Julian Gamboa is the Social Media Director for Maximum Effort, supporting brands affiliated with Ryan Reynolds including Mint Mobile, Aviation Gin and Wrexham AFC. He received his BA in marketing from the University of California, Berkeley. Previous work experience includes leading Telemundo LA’s first organic social strategy in live streaming and celebrity advertising and senior marketing and social media manager at Adweek. In 2017, LinkedIn recognized Mr. Gamboa as a Marketing and Social Media Top Voice. In late 2021, Mr. Gamboa was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and serves on the Board of Directors of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.

Dr. Jakai Nolan

Dr. Jakai Nolan is a neurologist specializing in multiple sclerosis in Villa Rica, Georgia and Endowed Neurology Chair for Tanner Medical Center. She received her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University, a Master’s degree in Public Health at Emory University and her medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia Campus. Dr. Nolan completed her residency training in neurology at Kettering Medical Center in Dayton, OH and a clinical fellowship in neuroimmunology/multiple sclerosis and spasticity management at Riverside Medical Center in Columbus, OH.