Sunday, May 1, 2005

Society invests $14.3M
to fight nerve disease

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is investing another $14.3 million in research to treat and cure the disease, which affects about 700 islanders, the society's Hawaii division has announced.

Dr. James Pierce, who heads the division's clinical advisory committee, said the funds will support 30 new MS projects.

This makes a total of about $35 million committed by the national society this year to fund more than 300 new and ongoing MS research projects, he said.

"This investment is paying off: New treatments and better methods of diagnosis, rehabilitation and symptom management are now available to all those with MS," Pierce said.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that strikes younger adults. Most patients are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, but the physical and emotional effects can be lifelong, the MS Society says.

The progress, severity and specific symptoms cannot be predicted in any one person, but advances in research and treatment give hope to those suffering from the disease, it said.

The Hawaii division contributes funds to the research efforts.

New projects involve scientists at Harvard and Stanford universities, Cleveland Clinic and other leading institutions.

They focus on different aspects of MS, including myelin and nerve tissue repair, rehabilitation and immune studies.

Three new projects are large-scale collaborative MS research centers, which take a multidisciplinary approach to better understand and treat MS.

The organization's mission is to end the disease.

It funded research that led to development of five drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat patients, but none can stop or cure the disease.

The MS Hawaii division provides education, emotional support, family services and other programs to people with MS and their families.

For more information, call the Hawaii division at 532-0806, 800-FIGHT MS or visit www.nationalmssociety.org.

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