What were they talking about at ECTRIMS?
ECTRIMSArticle from October 2019 edition of Intouch eNewsletter

Recently, around 9000 neurologists and medical researchers converged on Stockholm, Sweden for the 2019 ECTRIMS conference. ECTRIMS (European Committee for Treatment and Research In Multiple Sclerosis) is the largest multiple sclerosis conference in the world and it provides a fantastic opportunity for the clinical and research communities to share updates on their latest findings, discuss potential collaborations and generate new ideas for projects that may help solve more of the multiple sclerosis puzzle.

The conference itself is composed of three full days of presentations, with eight sessions running simultaneously, as well as multiple poster sessions showcasing hundreds of project outcomes. In essence, it is impossible to report back on everything! 

Some of the major topics covered were: 

Vitamin D
There is mixed opinion about whether supplementation with Vitamin D should become a standard practice for the management of multiple sclerosis and this was debated at the conference. The two major issues discussed were safety and effectiveness. While studies to this point have shown no major safety concerns associated with supplementation, it was also argued that much more information is needed to be completely certain about the risks. Additionally, while some studies have suggested there may be some clinical benefits to Vitamin D supplementation, this information is not yet considered definitive.

Symptomatic treatment
There was much discussion on this area, as there is a growing understanding that it is critical for improving quality of life for people living with multiple sclerosis. There were some impressive results related to the use of electrical stimulation to the brain for helping manage symptoms, including chronic pain and mobility issues. Interestingly, it was shown that this was most effective when combined with some form of ‘training’, such as physical or cognitive exercises.

Stem cell therapies
Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) was again a hot topic at this year’s meeting. There is consensus now that it can be a highly effective therapy for some people living with multiple sclerosis and that the risks associated with it, while still present, are being lowered. There was also an exciting presentation of an early trial using mesenchymal stem cells, which may be able to help with myelin repair, which showed some very positive data. This is still early days and more work will need to be done in this area.

All in all, it was a fantastic meeting and it is great to hear how much progress is being made in the field of multiple sclerosis research. For further insights into the conference, you can visit the MStranslate website or Facebook page to see more of our coverage. 

Article written by Brett Drummond, MStranslate.

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