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Meet the MSMilan2023 Poster Award Winners

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Last year, at MSMilan2023, five young investigators won the “Poster Award” for the best poster presentation. 

Marina Mastantuono – PhD student at the University of Verona – presented a study on compartmentalized meningeal inflammation, which is considered to play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of progressive MS. Using various techniques, the research team analysed sections from 60 post-mortem progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) cases and 10 sections from healthy donors. They found an increased number of B cells – higher than macrophages and T cells – in 43% of the MS cases that exhibited the most pronounced meningeal inflammation. In situ gene sequencing (ISS) analysis performed on 6 MS cases and 3 controls revealed a significant increase of 85 out of 157 immune-related genes in MS inflamed meninges compared to controls. These genes resulted to be associated with biological processes that involve the regulation of specialised immune responses. The authors concluded that in the meninges of individuals with progressive MS, persistent highly specialised immune and inflammatory responses, potentially related to anti-viral immunity, may play a role in sustaining intrathecal chronic inflammation.


Joonas Lehikoinen – doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki – reported a study aiming at investigating the presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood of MS patients. The authors collected CSF samples from 28 patients living with MS and their controls. They found that EBV DNA can be detected in some of the CSF cells of both MS patients and controls. The probabilistic analyses indicated that all EBV-seropositive individuals have EBV DNA in the CSF B-cells. There seems to be no mechanism that prohibits the access of EBV positive cells into the CNS.





Ahmed Abdelhak – MD and postdoctoral scholar at the University of California – aimed at investigating with his colleagues whether glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) can potentially contribute to predict disability progression in MS. They analysed neurofilament light chain (NfL) and GFAP blood levels from 668/809 visits of 243 people with MS with a median follow-up of 25.1 months. Key findings of the study indicated that GFAP levels in blood may contribute in the clinical context to detect high risk of progression in patients with primary progressive MS. Moreover, blood GFAP levels may represent potential candidates in clinical studies that investigate disease progression. In combination, elevated blood GFAP levels and low NfL may contribute to predict high risk for progression in a non-active population of primary progressive MS.



Elisabeth Framke – PhD, senior researcher at the Copenhagen University Hospital – presented a nationwide cohort study of 2095 MS patients in Denmark, exposed to fingolimod (n = 1131) or to natalizumab (n = 964). The researchers found that patients with no pre-existing cardiovascular disease, treated with fingolimod were at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, compared to patients treated with natalizumab.





Dejan Jakimovski – research assistant professor at the Department of Neurology, University of Buffalo – reported a retrospective observational study investigating 1,893 people with MS registered since 1996 within the New York State MS Consortium. The researchers aimed at evaluating the long-term clinical outcomes determined by use and discontinuation of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs). Worse long-term clinical outcomes were predicted by male sex, older age at baseline and worse initial disability levels. Compared to patients who started DMT early and to patients who started DMT late, people with MS who discontinued DMT reported the worst long-term disability trajectory.