New research suggests infections contribute to MS progression

Friday 24 May 2024

Research we funded found inflammation caused by infections, like colds and viruses, could contribute to progression of MS.

What did researchers do?

Professor Ian Galea and his team at the University of Southampton recruited 50 people with progressive MS who took part in the study over two and a half years. A weekly urine sample was taken which was tested to identify if and how the body was responding to an infection. Researchers developed a new technique to measure inflammation from these urine samples.

They measured progression of MS by taking MRI scans at the start and end of the study. And clinical disability was measuring during clinic visits every six months.

They found that inflammation from infections was associated with the loss of nerve cells in the spinal cord. 

What does this mean for people with MS?

This research highlights the importance of seeking early treatment for infections and getting vaccinations you are eligible for. People with MS should seek clinical advice from a healthcare professional. And make them aware they have MS when doing so.

We also know that bladder infections are very common in MS. People with MS should discuss urinary symptoms with their MS team, who can suggest ways to reduce infections. 

These findings could also offer new treatment strategies to slow down progression. For example, the brain and spinal cord are usually protected from inflammation elsewhere in the body. Researchers can look into why this protective barrier is failing and find ways to stop it. 

Read the full paper here