Multiple Sclerosis

The UM Multiple Sclerosis Center and Research Program in Neuroimmunology  is actively engaged in numerous clinical studies and trials, including a novel single center trial of extracorporeal photopheresis in secondary progressive MS.  The Neuroimmunology Research Program consists of three interactive wet bench laboratories, overseen by Drs. Segal, Irani and Mao-Draayer, respectively.   Ongoing research includes studies in human immunology and animal models of MS, as well as mechanistic substudies of clinical trials.  The collective laboratory personnel includes 5 technicians, 4 graduate students, 6 postdoctoral fellows/research scientists and a specimen bank manager.  Dr. Segal and Dr. Mao-Draayer are co-investigators in the UM Autoimmunity Center of Excellence, recently established by an award from the NIAID, NIH.  Dr. Segal serves as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the VA MS Centers of Excellence-East.  The UM MS Center has been successful in gaining grant support from the NIH (currently 4 projects are NIH funded), Veteran’s Administration (currently 2 projects),  several non-profit organizations, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (currently 4 projects), as well as industry.  Among their other accomplishments, MS faculty members have published 25 studies in high impact, peer-reviewed journals over the past two years.  Significant accomplishments of the UM Neuroimmunology Research team include the following: (i) the demonstration, in animal models of MS, that clinically similar forms of demyelinating disease can be driven by distinct cellular and molecular pathways that translate into different responsiveness to disease modifying modifications; (ii) the detection of heterogeneous cytokine profiles among patients with MS that are stable over long time intervals; (iii) the discovery that immune dysregulation is evident in individuals in the secondary progressive, as well as in relapsing remitting, stages of MS, and that the nature of aberrant autoimmune responses may evolve over the clinical course; (iv) investigations into the neuroprotective/ regenerative aspects of immune responses that might be harnessed to attenuate, and even reverse, nervous system damage in MS and other disorders; and (v) the finding that obstructive sleep apnea is highly prevalent in people with MS and is a significant contributor to fatigue.