Countdown to Swansea


Some of you feel they are no more than talking shops, but conversations at conferences sometimes do produce results, for example a new trial – AttackMS is such a product. The next domestic highlight in any UK MSologists’ diary is the MS Society’s MS Frontiers meeting hosted on the Bay Campus of Seaside University Swansea, on 6th and 7th of July. I provided some details back in March, so please have a look bearing in mind abstract submission is well and truly over; indeed, the final programme is available now:


One late platform presentation has only just been accepted, so do keep a look out for updates, particularly to Session 3 “remyelination & neuroprotection”!

The programme has been developed with input by the MS Society’s Research network, and under the leadership of a fabulous committee including Don Mahad (Edinburgh University), Yvonne Dombrowksi (Queens University Belfast), Sarah Alexander (University College London), Owen Pearson (Swansea University), Stuart Nixon (MS Society Research Strategy Committee representative), and Ruth Dobson & myself (Queen Mary University of London) as co-chairs… So, if you have any views on the programme – here is your chance to voice them and, if you wish, attack not only the messenger but quite possibly a perpetrator!

The event is well-subscribed with >150 people attending. However, there are a few places left, so if you are a researcher, medic or allied healthcare professional with an interest in MS and not subscribed yet, do sign up now to avoid disappointment.

MS Frontiers takes place every two years, and I trust in the not so distant future a new committee will be in deep thoughts about topics, speakers, format, location, etc. They might wish to take inspiration from the #ScienceFlashMob taking place today & tomorrow at another seaside town – Tel Aviv. Taking the conversation aspect to the next level (up or down?), there is no space in this for power-point presentations or even screens. All inquiries to the organisers, link included below:

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and nobody else.


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  • Thank you ProfK and I hope you all have a productive and creative conference.

    But ….. you asked and that prompted me to see what the international alliance has been getting up to. Here is my summary:

    The International Progressive Alliance has 3 priorities:

    The first is the big one; the second hard to crack (I know some of you are trying); the third, realistically, is all we have for now.

    Understand and stop / reverse progression. The big one! We don’t know what drives progression or what is broken. Until we do all else is going to rely more on serendipity that science or technique. And for that you need to mix with people outside your field who can challenge you. ??

    Improve and speed up clinical trials (they take too long and we don’t know how to measure if anything works ). And widen participation to all those who need help.

    Improve wellness for ppms. An admission that there is some way to go. Here at least there are some interventions and some agreement on what might help.

    My personal challenge for any research team is can you do better than common sense?

    By that I mean applying the well-documented evidence for healthy ageing for any group of people. Whether you call it brain health or heart health it is easy to spell out (easier than doing it). Eat well, sleep well and stay active physically, socially and mentally. Try not to get too stressed by things and have enough to get by. Forgo bad habits and avoid other illnesses. The last few might be tricky.

    Do you think this is a fair summary of the state of play?

    All the best RB

    • 1) Understand/stop/reverse progression. We certainly don’t know all the answers, but we are reasonably certain about a few. Key inflammation in MS – minor potential benefits (depending on how people describe inflammation) are likely outweighed at virtually every point in the disease by detrimental/damaging effects. This insight, supported from pathology right across to clinical trials needs to become common knowledge and guide our management. And I agree mixing with people outside your own territory is very useful here – particularly looking at kidney and joint diseases.
      2) Improving/speeding up clinical trials – a whole lecture about that. The “MAMS” design appears to be the MS Society’s answer to that one, but it is crucial to incorporate insight #1 above into that – the best trial design won’t deliver if biology is not being thoroughly considered.
      3) Improving wellness – I wouldn’t consider myself an expert here, but almost everybody else seems to be! You’re right, for a start common sense applies, and people smoking, drinking, being overweight, couch potatoes should be encouraged to change their habits. We need to get better doing so without becoming part of a blame culture. And doctors thinking holistically also don’t forget about basics such as high blood pressure.

      One element people tend to neglect when talking about progressive MS is the potential to avoid “late progression” altogether through acute, highly effective intervention at the point of diagnosis. Whilst the evidence supports an offer of disease-modifying treatment (DMT) at almost any stage, we have yet to fully incorporate the knowledge from studies using highly effective DMTs first line. IMO our culture of managing people being diagnosed with MS needs to change, becoming more akin to the stroke pathway. Our “door-to-needle-time” is too long; that’s what AttackMS is about.

      • Thanks for the comprehensive reply. I have no medical expertise but I do have 10 years of working on lifestyle interventions thats all I’ve got!

        I do hope that urgent early intervention can bludgeon most new cases into submission. Clearly the most important task.

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