National MS Society continues funding for pediatric MS centers

The network has the largest group of well-characterized pediatric MS cases in the world.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has announced a new, three-year funding commitment of $2.5 million for the Network of Pediatric MS Centers (NPMSC) beginning July 1, 2013. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Center for Pediatric-Onset Demyelinating Disease (C-PODD), located at Children’s of Alabama, is one of nine centers in the network.

Funding for the network provides essential infrastructure to facilitate research that includes searching for the cause of MS by studying risk factors for the disease in children close to the time of exposure. The network has the largest group of well-characterized pediatric MS cases in the world.

The NPMSC was launched with Society funding in 2006 to set the standard for pediatric MS care, educate the medical community about this underserved population and create the framework to conduct critical research – both to understand childhood MS and to unlock the mysteries of MS in adults.

“In contrast to adult MS, pediatric MS appears to have a narrower window of onset with more rapid and pervasive cognitive symptoms, which need to be better understood if effective treatments are to be provided,” said Jayne Ness, M.D., an associate professor of pediatric neurology at UAB and C-PODD director. 

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, as well as between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.1 million people worldwide.

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