Supporting and disseminating research are central to our mission at ECTRIMS, and that’s why, for 38 years, our annual congress has showcased some of the most important and exciting developments in MS.
With less than two weeks to go until the #MSMilan2023 abstract submission deadline (3 May), we revisit some of last year’s winning poster entries, and how these studies could go on to improve the delivery of quality, personalised care for everyone living with MS.
Deeper insights translate into better care
In 2022, winning poster submissions focused on helping us to better understand the underlying pathology of the disease, as well as the potential markers of disease progression and treatment effect.
A study by Mads Madsen, from Denmark , for example, asked if regional metabolic changes were associated with local cortical demyelination and pathway-specific changes in functional integrity. Using single-vortex 7T magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the team found that people living with MS exhibited alterations in the left and right cortical sensorimotor hand area, as characterised by metabolite profile. Such findings were particularly prominent in those with secondary-progressive MS (SPMS). The authors said the changes were associated with functional measures of corticospinal excitability and integrity, and hypothesised that local cortical demyelination may alter the excitation-inhibition balance of the affected cortex.
In another publication, the same group demonstrated how the presence of cortical lesions in the primary sensorimotor hand area was associated with impaired corticomotor function of the contralateral hand . These findings provided preliminary evidence that different cortical lesion types may affect the various facets of corticomotor function differently.
These important insights into the underlying pathology of MS could help clinicians more accurately diagnose the condition and to deliver more personalised care.
Another area of focus was myelin repair, which, while being widely recognised as the ultimate therapeutic goal, is notoriously challenging to measure. Questions remain on how best to assess the efficacy of promising remyelinating agents.
At last year’s ECTRIMS Congress, Christian Cordano and colleagues from the US  presented data from a secondary analysis of the remyelination ReBUILD clinical trial (NCT02040298), which used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyse myelin content in myelin-rich regions of the brain.
By computing the myelin water fraction (MWF) changes in white matter, Cordano demonstrated an improvement in myelination, both within and outside of lesions, that corresponded with the administration of the remyelination agent, clemastine. MWF change, then, could be a useful measure of treatment efficacy in individual patients.
Sarmad Al-Araji from the UK , also presented research aimed at helping to predict individual treatment response. The study asked if applying principles of Bayesian statistics to routinely collected clinical and radiological data could improve predictions of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) in people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). The approach was able to predict no evidence of disease activity level 3 (NEDA-3) more accurately than current methods, which tend to focus on DMT type, number of relapses, and enhancing MRI lesions. While more work is needed to expand and validate the tool, the study could prove to be an important milestone in our understanding of individual response to treatment.
Promoting continued advances in research
These are just a few examples of the huge number of studies carried out by the MS scientific community every year.
Such research is continually deepening our understanding of the disease and its treatments to improve diagnosis and permit earlier treatment, thereby halting disease progression and, ultimately, optimising patient care.
Submit YOUR abstract for MSMilan2023
Be part of the charge by submitting your abstract for the 9th Joint ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS Congress by 3 May 2023. We also offer a limited number of travel and abstract grants for scientists aged 35 and under, which include help with the cost of travel and free registration. Full details here: https://www.ectrims.eu/msmilan2023-abstracts/call-for-abstracts/
ECTRIMS Insights articles are produced with the intent of being a neutral source of information sharing and objective analysis for the MS and neuroscience community. Unless otherwise stated, cited information in our articles does equivocate official endorsement from ECTRIMS.
 Madsen MAJ, et al. ECTRIMS 2022. Available at: https://apps.congrex.com/ectrims2022/en-GB/ProgramSearch/DownloadAbstract/140602. Accessed April 2023.
 Madsen MAJ, et al. Brain. 2022; 145(10):3522–3535.
 Cordano C, et al. ECTRIMS 2022. Available at: https://apps.congrex.com/ectrims2022/en-GB/ProgramSearch/DownloadAbstract/140503. Accessed April 2023.
 Al-Araji S, et al. ECTRIMS 2022. Available at: https://apps.congrex.com/ectrims2022/en-GB/ProgramSearch/DownloadAbstract/140951. Accessed April 2023.