Grant to advance multiple sclerosis research at BloodCenter

Research will focus on how certain cells fight effects of MS

Last updated on July 7th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

BloodCenter of Wisconsin senior investigator Bonnie Dittel, Ph.D., will use a $700,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society toward research of new treatments for multiple sclerosis.Medical research_224557048_Shutterstock.jpg

The disease impacts the central nervous system and the immune system as information communicated between the brain and the body is stymied, according to BloodCenter, a nonprofit that facilitates blood services diagnostic testing, medical services and research as well as organ, tissue and marrow donations.

The immune system of an individual with MS then attacks the body and damages tissue in the brain and spinal cord, leading to inflammation.

Symptoms caused by the disease vary among those affected by it, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty walking, numbness or tingling, muscle spasms, weakness and vision problems, among others.

“B cells,” the body’s line of defense against inflammation, could play a key role in overcoming MS symptoms, according to BloodCenter.

Dittel’s focus at BloodCenter’s Blood Research Institute pivots around how certain cells in the body can battle the effects of the disease.

“Discovering new information is what research is all about,” Dittel, also an adjunct professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said in a press release. “This is the next step in better understanding MS and finding treatments to help people with this disease.”

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society hopes that grant funds awarded to researchers like Dittel will accelerate the discovery of the right solution to end the disease.

“We are funding scientific breakthroughs that will propel the knowledge we need to end MS and identify everyday solutions that change the lives of people with all forms of the disease,” said Colleen Kait, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

More than 11,000 Wisconsin residents are affected by MS. The disease is often diagnosed in individuals between ages 20 and 50 and is two to three times more prevalent in women than men, according to BloodCenter.

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