New multiple sclerosis centre to develop and test treatments


Researchers and doctors will work closely together at the new University MS Centre on new and improved treatments for multiple sclerosis

Towards a cure

Doctors and scientists in Limburg will be able to more closely co-operate on multiple sclerosis research at new collaborative centre, unveiled this week. The University MS Centre will develop and test new and improved treatments for the disease, in close collaboration with patients.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own nerve fibres. This produces a range of progressive neurological problems, including impaired vision, and difficulties with balance and movement.

While MS is still incurable, progress has been made in recent years on treatments that slow its progress and improve the quality of life of people with the condition.

The University MS Centre brings together researchers from Hasselt University’s Biomedical Research Institute and clinicians specialising in MS at Noorderhart hospital in Pelt. The two groups have been working together for the past 12 years.

This way, innovative treatment strategies can be quickly implemented in health care

- Ilse Lamers of Noorderhart

“With this initiative, we want to further strengthen the bridge between the clinical field and the scientific world,” said Ilse Lamers, care manager at Noorderhart. “In this way, innovative treatment strategies can be quickly implemented in health care, and questions or experience from the clinical field can be translated into ground-breaking research projects.”

Having a high-profile centre will also help to build collaborations with other MS centres across Europe. “A good example is the international MS Data Alliance, which is collecting patient information from around the world to investigate the effects of Covid-19 on MS,” said Niels Hellings, director of the Biomedical Research Institute.

The University MS Centre will also play a role in teaching, contributing to university courses on medicine, rehabilitation sciences, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. It will also provide professional education and training in MS for doctors and other health-care professionals.

Two people with MS will sit on the centre’s governing board, and there will be close consultation with patient organisations, such as MS-Liga and the pharmaceutical industry.

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