Current research into Multiple Sclerosis focuses on the fundamental process of inflammation in the brain, how it starts, and how it can be slowed or stopped. Leading researchers in the field of neuroimmunology, neurosciences, and neuroimaging have been recruited to the Waddell Center to participate in and initiate national clinical treatment trials that may someday solve the mysteries of this disease.
In the past, MS patients in this region who wished to participate in the latest clinical trials usually had to travel to treatment centers in distant cities. Today, advanced treatment is available locally at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute. With the substantial medical resources of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the UC Academic Health Center and the comprehensive therapy and rehabilitation programs at collaborating Drake Center and selected other providers, patients receive the best available care and benefit from the newest treatment technologies and therapies.
The Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis supports dedicated physician-scientists who study various aspects of MS-related issues.
In addition, we have established a collaboration with physicians and scientists from Greater Cincinnati and throughout the world in the areas of immunology, neuro-virology, bioengineering, and MRI physics. Our philosophy is to adopt a “multimodality” approach to MS-related research, whereby similar questions can be addressed in parallel in animal models of neuro-inflammation and in experiments performed on human cells and tissues, with MRI technology serving as a bridge between the two approaches.
Clinical trials: Our current clinical trials are carefully selected. Our goal is to select clinical trials that focus on novel, experimental therapies that have the potential to help patients who are inadequately treated by current, FDA-approved medications. These trials serve:
- Patients with inflammatory forms of MS (RR-MS or SP-MS) who exhibit persistent disease activity while on standard immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive therapies.
- Patients who cannot tolerate injectable therapies.
- Patients with progressive, or more degenerative, forms of MS (primary or secondary progressive-MS), for which there are currently no effective FDA-approved therapies
- Patients who would benefit from neuro-protective and neuro-restorative strategies.
Basic science research: Dr. Aaron Johnson has been conducting studies on how the immune system mediates severe nervous system tissue damage in animal models of multiple sclerosis for more than seven years. His study methods include novel live MRI imaging of experimental animals in high-field-strength scanners, allowing for previously unprecedented comparative studies of MRI features of MS and the studied animal models. Our team has the only known mouse models of several highly relevant MRI findings in MS, including “T1 black holes,” central atrophy of the brain, spinal cord atrophy, and deep gray matter “T2 hypointensity.” In general, all of these MRI features are poorly understood, yet it is very well known that their presence is associated with a more severe and disabling disease course. Therefore, understanding the root causes of these imaging findings will likely allow us to more meaningfully address the substrate of disability in MS.