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Photo of the stage at the Stop MS lecture. Text on screen reads "Drug Development for progressive MS: how close are we to success?"

Stop MS Annual Lecture review

Jessie Ace

It was the day of the fourth annual MS lecture at the Royal college of Physicians in London on 1 May 2019 and I had been lucky enough to be invited.

I was so excited to hear about the upcoming treatments for progressive MS from the research team themselves.

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The journey

My plus one (my mum) and I raced down to Lichfield station to catch the train. We got to the station with a half hour to spare only to find our train had been cancelled
My anxiety went into overdrive.

Will the next train come?
Will we be late?
Will we be able to sit down for the two hours to London?

We did and pounded on through to Euston Station together and arrived in a flash!

By the time we finally got there, it was late afternoon and the Tecfidera side effects were kicking in big time. My mouth was dry, I was bright red, hot and itchy over my throat and chest and I was having the energy sucked out of me.

An inspirational speaker

But those symptoms would have to wait until I could find the place where the lecture was, because my anxiety was still in overdrive. The lecture was being held at the Royal College of Physicians which was in the most beautiful part of London just next to Regents Park.

The lecture itself was incredible. It started with a talk from a wonderful person with MS who started running after her diagnosis and is working up to doing a marathon! She was incredibly inspiring.

Neuron loss in brains of people with MS

The main speaker of the evening was Professor Richard Reynolds. He was appointed the Professor of Cellular Neurobiology in 2000 and is the Scientific Director at the MS Society Tissue Bank.

Professor Reynolds explained - luckily in simple terminology so we could all understand - that the basic differences between a normal, healthy brain and a brain with MS is the amount of neurons in it.

He explained that in rapidly progressing MS there's up to 70% of neurons lost in some areas. The challenge is now to find a drug therapy that can stop the toxic cells breaking down the myelin on the neurons in the brain and to encourage the regeneration of cells.

Drugs for progressive MS and the importance of trials

There are many drugs coming into the market for progressive MS (more than ever!) which are currently in safety trials for the next 1-5 years. There are 400+ people trying out these new therapies currently all over the world.

But this vital MS research is very dependant on people with MS helping out the research team by doing clinical trials, signing up to the MS register, taking surveys and even signing up to be a postpartum brain donor.

After Professor Reynolds gave his talk it was time for the panel Q&A. Questions came from people in the audience messaging a website using the #MSlecture.

These researchers alongside their teams are finding answers to questions like: What happens between relapsing remitting MS and primary progressive MS? What are practical things patients can be doing to slow down the disease? When will people with MS reap the benefits of new research?

After this my mind was boggled and it was time to go home. I met some incredible people at this event and I will never forget it.

Alongside all of the amazing people I had the pleasure to encounter, I'd like to give a special shout out to MS Ambassador Stuart who personally introduced me to... well... everybody! Thank you again Stuart.

Watch the Stop MS Annual Lecture on YouTube