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Hughlings Jackson Lecture 2021

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Making Progress in Progressive MS – the Ultimate Challenge!

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Speaker: Dr. Alan J Thompson, MD

FMedSci, FRCP, FRCPI, FANA, FAAN; Dean, Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London; Pro Vice Provost (London); Garfield Weston Professor of Clinical Neurology and Neurorehabilitation, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK

Abstract:The international focus on progressive MS, driven by the Progressive MS Alliance amongst others, together with recent encouraging results from clinical trials have raised the profile and emphasised the importance of understanding, treating and ultimately preventing progression in MS. Effective treatment for Progressive MS is now regarded as the single most important issue facing the MS community. There are several important challenges to developing new treatments for progressive MS. Fundamental to any development in treatment is a better understanding of the mechanisms of tissue injury underpinning progression which will in turn allow the identification of new targets against which treatments can be directed. There are additional complications in determining when progression actually starts, determining the impact of aging and defining the progressive clinical phenotypes – an area which has become increasingly complex in recent months.

Evaluating potential new treatments in progressive MS also poses particular challenges including trial design and the selection of appropriate clinical and imaging outcomes - in particular, identifying an imaging biomarker for phase II trials of progressive MS. Despite these challenges, considerable progress is being made in developing new treatments targeting the innate immune system and exploring neuroprotective strategies. Further advances are being driven by a number of international networks, funded by the Progressive MS Alliance. Overall we are seeing encouraging progress as a result of co-ordinated global collaboration which offers real possibilities for truly effective treatment of progression.

Bio: Alan Thompson is Dean, UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences; UCL Pro Vice-Provost (London); Garfield Weston Professor of Clinical Neurology and Neurorehabilitation, Institute of Neurology; and Chair of the Neuroscience Program at UCLPartners Academic Health Science Center. He is Emeritus Senior Investigator of the National Institute for Health Research and Honorary Consultant Neurologist, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square London. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, and the European Academy of Neurology. He chairs the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Alliance, is Editor-in-Chief for Multiple Sclerosis Journal and a Guarantor of Brain. As Dean, he leads translational research programmes in dementia, mental health and sensory systems. He led UCL’s successful bid for the Hub of the £250m UK Dementia Research Institute, established the UCL Institute of Mental Health and is developing major centres for translational neuroscience centre and ophthalmology.

Established in 1935, the Hughlings Jackson Lecture is The Neuro’s premier scientific lecture. It honors the legacy of British neurologist John Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911) who pioneered the development of neurology as a medical specialty.

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