MSA Trust


6th International Symposium on MSA

Our CEO, Karen Walker, reports back on the 6th International Symposium on MSA which was held earlier this month…

What an exciting three days spent in New York at the beginning of March to listen to the latest research happening around the world on MSA. Even though there was a ‘nor’westerley’ blowing in that brought howling gales and lots of rain, the enthusiasm to share information and goals could not be dampened.

Over 300 delegates came from all corners of the globe to share their research projects and report on the latest investigations into MSA. The plenary address was given by Stanley Prusiner, Nobel prize winner for his work on prion disease. MSA is not prion, but Prusiner spoke engagingly and is looking forward to receiving his MSA Trust pin badge – better get that in the post!

I was privileged to attend the full conference, hosted by the New York University Langone Medical Centre and I had the pleasure of meeting lots of researchers and viewing the poster presentations. I spent the remainder of my time meeting with other advocacy organisations, such as MSA Coalition, Defeat MSA, MSA NJ and others, who discussed the needs for Nurse Specialists in their country and how best to organise Support Groups.

The MSA Trust was well-represented. Our ABN MSA Research Fellow Viorica Chelban was there and her colleague Lucia Schottlaender also attended. Lucia has recently completed a research project funded by us developing RNA sequencing for genes that may be associated with MSA, and of course Viorica is heavily involved in her own research into early biomarkers.

We were also delighted to see Professor Henry Houlden give a talk on ‘Deepening our Understanding of Genetics of MSA’. Our trustee, Professor Niall Quinn, took part in the roundtable discussion on the ‘revision of the consensus criteria for the diagnosis of MSA’ and the Chair of our board of Trustees, Professor Clare Fowler CBE, was also in attendance to update her knowledge on current research and thinking. These were all self-funded places.

It is a time of good advances in our understanding around MSA.  We may not quite have the breakthrough we all hope for, but an event like this brought together 22 different centres from around the globe to agree common areas for research and a commitment to sharing best practice and information. The key areas for research were agreed as: Genetics, Neuropathology and Biomarkers. The great news is that these three areas are at the core of our current research strategy. The work we are doing within the Prospect study will help us to focus our research on developing information and collaborating with overseas partners to understand more around these subjects. These also link closely with our recent grant awards, of which more information will be given in a blog from our Scientific Advisory Panel soon. There is much more to report so look out for updates in your the next MSA News magazine due out in June.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the blogs published on these pages are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the MSA Trust.

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