Multiple Sclerosis Research and Clinical Trials
The University of Maryland Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research maintains an active basic science and clinical research program funded by multiple sources, including:
- The National Institutes of Health
- The Department of Veterans Affairs
- The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- Several pharmaceutical companies
Current research at the center has three goals:
- To understand the cause of MS and other neuroimmunological disorders, and the mechanisms by which the immune system and viruses can cause myelin damage
- To test the immunologic effects of novel approaches to the treatment of MS and other neuroimmunological diseases
- To train the next generation of MS researchers through clinical and research fellowships
The following is a brief description of the current research activities of our faculty:
- Walter Royal, M.D., is an active investigator in the University of Maryland Center for MS clinical trials program and also has a laboratory that is researching factors that can modulate immune responses in MS. These include cigarette smoke exposure as well as effects mediated by the activation of nuclear receptors, which include the vitamin D and vitamin A receptors. His research also involves studies of the viral pathogenesis of MS and clinical and basic science studies of the epidemiology and pathogenesis of neurocognitive impairment that occurs among individuals with human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) infection.
- Horea Rus, M.D., understanding the role of oligodendrocyte cell death in the development of the multiple sclerosis. Together with his colleagues, Dr. Rus has discovered that several of the complement proteins traditionally thought to contribute only to the destructive processes of MS may also aid in the prevention of oligodendrocyte death, and thus may help heal damage caused by the disease. More recently his lab has discovered a new biomarker for MS disease activity and response to therapy called Response Gene to Complement-32 (RGC-32). Dr. Rus conducts studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, MS Society and Veterans Administration.
- Daniel Harrison, M.D., directs an active research program focused on the development and validation of new techniques for imaging of the brain and spinal cord for application to multiple sclerosis research and clinical trials. Dr. Harrison's research program is currently focused on utilization of novel MRI techniques, including ultra-high field, 7-tesla MRI for visualization of cortical pathology, neurodegeneration, and meningeal inflammation in multiple sclerosis. Dr. Harrison’s research program is funded through grants from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and by industry sponsors. Dr. Harrison is also an active investigator in the University of Maryland Center for MS clinical trials program.
- David Trisler, Ph.D., in work funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, studies the use of stem cells in replacement therapy in animal models of neurological diseases.
- Tapas Kumar Makar, Ph.D., focuses his laboratory research on studying the neuroprotective and therapeutic effects of BDNF agonists 7, 8-dihydroxyflovone and glibenclamide in MS. He is also involved in studies regarding stem cell-mediated gene delivery in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, an animal model of MS. His studies are funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs.