Research Studies Progression of Neurodegeneration in MS

Published November 17, 2020

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences researchers Richard W. Browne, PhD, and Robert Zivadinov, MD, PhD, are investigators for a $957,000 grant from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command to explore the progression of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis (MS).

“Our findings can be leveraged for developing diet, lifestyle and drug interventions for preventing progression and improving outcomes for MS patients. ”
Murali Ramanathan, PhD
Professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and professor of neurology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
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Looking at Changes in Metabolic Pathways

Richard W. Browne, PhD

The study will investigate whether changes in metabolic pathways (a series of chemical reactions that supply energy and provide structural building blocks for the cell) precede neurodegeneration in MS patients.

Robert Zivadinov, MD, PhD

Metabolic pathways are critical for a healthy immune and central nervous system. Impaired metabolic pathways may cause irreversible damage to brain and nervous system tissue.

Browne is professor of biotechnical and clinical laboratory sciences. Zivadinov is professor of neurology and director of the Jacobs School’s Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center and the Center for Biomedical Imaging at UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Improving Outcomes

“The project has the potential to impact MS clinical science and patient care,” says lead investigator Murali Ramanathan, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and professor of neurology in the Jacobs School. “Our findings can be leveraged for developing diet, lifestyle and drug interventions for preventing progression and improving outcomes for MS patients.”

The researchers will examine the metabolic changes in relapsing-remitting and progressive MS patients over the course of five years and compare them to healthy individuals. They will assess serum neurofilament levels (a protein in the blood released from damaged nerves that reflects neurodegeneration), changes in gray matter volume in the brain, the accumulation of lesions and MRI measures of neurodegenerative injury.

Rachael Hageman Blair, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, is also an investigator on the study.