Summer 2012 MSConnection: Lone Star
Summer 2012 edition of MSConnection, a quarterly magazine of the National MS Society for Texans with MS, their friends and families, and everyone interested in our shared movement to help everyone with multiple sclerosis.
Moving Toward A World Free of MS Summer 2012 Kelli Simms: Living with Purpose after Diagnosis In this issue: Marbles 4 MS On The Move Luncheon Walk MS Weathering Summer Costs If You or Someone You Know Has MS Studies show that early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can The Official Magazine of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star The official magazine of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star Amarillo • Austin • Dallas • Fort Worth • Houston • Lubbock • Midland • San Antonio 1-800-344-4867 reduce future disease activity Board of Trustees Chairman Brad Robbins and improve quality of life for Houston, TEXAS many people with multiple sclerosis. Talk to your health care professional or contact the National MS Society at nationalMSsociety.org or 1-800-344-4867 to learn about ways to help manage multiple sclerosis and about current research that may one day reveal a cure. Board of Trustees Chairman Elect ERNEST JOHNSON Houston, TEXAS Treasurer DON McCormack MIDLAND, TEXAS Secretary DAVID CARDER TULSA, OKLAHOMA Regional Executive Vice President Mark Neagli MSConnection Editor James Black © 2012 National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star The National Multiple Sclerosis Society does not endorse products, services or manufacturers. Such names appear here solely because they are considered valuable information. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society assumes no liability for the use of contents of any product or service mentioned. MS STOPS PEOPLE FROM MOVING WE EXIST TO MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T. JOIN THE MOVEMENT Information provided by the Society is based upon professional advice, published experience and expert opinion. Information provided in response to questions does not constitute therapeutic recommendations or prescriptions. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends that all questions and information be discussed with a personal physician. We mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. Summer 2012 Volume 6 • Issue 3 The Official Magazine of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star Get Connected and Raise Awareness with New Online Community What if everyone living with multiple sclerosis could connect with one another, with those who care for someone living with MS, or with those who research ways to stop, restore or end the disease? The National MS Society is virtually making those connections a reality. You can join the Society’s new MS Connection online community and make meaningful connections when, where and how you want. Best of all, you can connect with free, easy access to the best content and resources the MS community can bring you, including photos, group discussions, updated blogs, videos and more. You’ll learn about topics that are most important to you, connect with others, and have expert MS information and opinions right at your fingertips. Check out this new connected community at MSconnection.org today. This Summer, Volunteer to Make a Difference Volunteering is always in season at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Volunteer opportunities are available for a wide range of talents and skills, and for both one-time and ongoing activities. Volunteering with the Society is a great summer activity for individuals and families, as well as groups from schools, churches and companies. Many corporations and organizations volunteer with the Society as a team-building experience. For information on volunteer opportunities near you, visit volunteerMS.org or contact the National MS Society directly at 1-800-344-4867. Members of the BP MS 150 Club 300 pitched in this spring to clean up a stretch of adopted highway FM 159 in Fayetteville. The BP MS 150 Club 300 is an elite group of cyclists made up of the top 300 fundraisers in the two-day Houston-to-Austin event each April. Last year, Club 300 participants raised more than $3.6 million to support multiple sclerosis research and programs. Offices Closed Our offices will be closed Wednesday, July 4, for Independence Day. We will reopen Thursday, July 5. Make Friends and Share Experiences with Self-Help Groups The National MS Society’s SelfHelp Groups offer opportunities for persons with multiple sclerosis, their families and friends to meet others affected by MS. Group meetings provide settings to share common experiences and concerns, network with others, give and receive emotional support, and receive MS-related information from peers and guest professional speakers. Each Self-Help Group is facilitated by a trained Society volunteer. To find a Self-Help Group near you, visit nationalMSsociety. org/txh and click the Programs and Services link in the upper left-hand column, followed by the link for Self-Help Groups. Moving Toward A World Free of MS 3 GE T INVOLVED Step, Stroll, Scoot and Move with Walk MS by James Black It’s time to sign up, lace up and step up to get moving this year. Seven Walk MS events are planned for this fall throughout Texas. Walk MS – recognized as the rallying point of the MS movement – showcases our Lone Star community coming together to raise funds and awareness as we move toward a future free of multiple sclerosis. Earlier this year, the Texas walks successfully kicked off with the spring series in Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Lubbock, Odessa, San Angelo and San Antonio. Walks are festive, fun-filled, family-friendly events held in accessible locations. Families, friends, coworkers, students and neighbors team up to step up for the MS mission. Refreshments and entertainment are provided, and many sites welcome our leashed fourlegged friends to join the fun. 2012 Walk MS Events As this issue of MSConnection went to print, Fall 2012 Walk MS events are planned for the following dates and locations: Sept. 15: Oct. 6: Oct. 27: Oct. 27: Nov. 10: Nov. 11: Nov. 17: Harker Heights Waco Austin The Woodlands Sugar Land Houston Kemah MS STOPS PEOPLE FROM MOVING WE EXIS 4 MSConnection • SUMMER 2012 Commonly asked questions include: Is there a registration fee? No. There is no registration fee to participate in Walk MS. I’m walking and my family will join me. Should they register for Walk MS? Yes, absolutely! All walkers, regardless of age, must register to participate in the Walk MS event. This is for your safety and so that each participant qualifies for fundraising incentives, including the $100 minimum to receive a snazzy new 2012 Walk MS T-shirt. Can my child (12 or under) participate in Walk MS? Yes. Walk MS is a family event for all ages. Sign up for free today, get your friends and family involved, and let everyone know you’re joining the MS movement (and they can join you, too). For details and free registration, visit walkMStexas.org. You can also call the National MS Society at 1-800-344-4867 (press 2 to be connected with your local office). James Black is the editor of MSConnection. He can be reached at email@example.com. ST TO MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T. JOIN THE MOVEMENT Moving Toward A World Free of MS 5 Colorful Young Artist Goes For All the Marbles 4 MS by Yavonda Chase C onnor Grossman is determined to cure MS. But he isn’t a neurologist or a drug researcher. Instead, he’s a 6-year-old boy from Rochester, N.Y., whose mother was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis before his first birthday. A little more than a year ago, Connor decided to experiment with his marbles and paint. He placed a piece of paper in a cigar box, put a paintcovered marble into the box, closed the lid and shook. While the first attempt may not have been as Jackson Pollock-esque as later attempts, his mother Annette Grossman praised his skills and even commented that he could make some money with his artwork. The idea for Marbles 4 MS was born. Marbles 4 MS isn’t a one-boy operation. The 6 MSConnection • SUMMER 2012 entire Grossman family is involved. In fact, Michael Grossman, Connor’s dad, estimates the family spends 40-50 hours a week on the project. Connor’s brother, Jackson, 10, serves as production manager, which means he helps Connor create the paintings. Annette Grossman manages the website, Marbles4MS.com, while Michael Grossman handles all social media, including the project’s Facebook page that has garnered more than 1,200 likes. At first, Connor’s goal was raising $2,500 for the National MS Society so “the scientist guys can find a cure for his Mom and everyone with MS,” according to the Marbles4MS website. He met that goal -and didn’t stop there. A year later, Marbles 4 MS has sold about 1,000 paintings to buyers from every state in the United States, as well as from eight or nine foreign countries, raising more than $45,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. A trip to Texas in March 2012 for San Antonio’s Walk MS proved particularly fruitful. Bill Klesse, Valero’s chief operating officer and the top fundraiser in the annual San Antonio-based Bike MS: Valero ride, bought a large Marbles 4 MS painting for $10,000. Connor and Jackson no longer limit themselves to paintings. On Marbles4MS.com, patrons can purchase T-shirts, notecards and bookmarks that all feature the boys’ unique artwork. The newest product is cycling jerseys, complete with a special message in the pocket “We won’t stop until they find a cure, Love Connor & Jackson.” One looming project: jewelry made of marbles, according to Michael Grossman. Also, there are plans for Connor and Jackson’s work to be sold at LandofMarbles.com, an online marble store. The boys’ work is already on display at Artizann’s, an art gallery in Naples, N.Y., and the boys will make two appearances there this summer as part of a painting demonstration sponsored by the gallery. Of course, young Connor probably wouldn’t have come up with his idea if Annette Grossman hadn’t been diagnosed with MS in 2006. In 2002 after Jackson was born, Grossman said she began experiencing headaches, numbness, tingling and fatigue. Like many moms, she didn’t have time to be tired so she just went on with her life. After Connor was born, the headaches, numbness, tingling and fatigue returned. Doctors initially diagnosed her with post-partum depression, according to a video the family made about their experience. Then one day when Connor was about 11-months-old, Annette Grossman woke up to find she had trouble seeing. Optic neuritis had reared its ugly head, although the video reports that was initially misdiagnosed as a scratched cornea. After seeking a second opinion, she was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. While Annette was on steroid treatment for the optic neuritis, she lost the use of one of her legs. MS isn’t new to the Grossman family. Michael Grossman’s sister also lives with the disease. Both Connor and Jackson have grown up in a multiplesclerosis household. They understand when mom is having a bad-MS day. Even though Jackson is more than three years older than Connor, he can’t remember a time when mom wasn’t sick. “They’ve dealt with it [MS] their whole lives,” Annette Goodman said. “They’re good at it.” Both boys may be good at dealing with MS, but they’re determined to keep raising funds to fight the disease until scientists find a cure. Yavonda Chase is a contributing writer from Little Rock, Ark. Moving Toward A World Free of MS 7 F U NDRAI S ING Houstonâ€™s On the Move Luncheon Receives Rave Reviews by Taylor Mallia photos by Kim Coffman The spring On the Move Luncheon, benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, drew 420 supporters at Hotel ZaZa Houston. Chairman Franelle Rogers was thrilled with the third consecutive sold-out annual event and the record-breaking amount of more than $180,000 raised for MS research, programs and services. Honorary Chairman Katie Brass applauded the efforts. 8 MSConnection â€˘ SUMMER 2012 Katie Brass, Dr. Jerry Wolinksy, Franelle Rogers and Lesha Elsenbrook Person on the Move Lesha Elsenbrook, an active community volunteer, was honored for her caring work, impacting so many lives in Houston. Representing the Company on the Move award winner, UT Health Science Center Houston Department of Neurology MS Clinic, was Dr. Jerry Wolinsky, who spoke of research and new discoveries to help those with MS. Ann Young shared her personal story of being diagnosed and living with MS. Melanie Lawson, KTRK-TV Channel 13 anchor, led the day as emcee. Lester Smith and his wife Sue danced to his signature song “I Will Survive” before reading from his book “You Gotta Dance Like No One’s Watching” and talking of his uplifting way of looking at life. Applauding the successful efforts were A.J. Brass, Amy Zadok, Brooke Robertson, Stephanie Cockrell, Jill Wasserstrom, Sheridan Williams, Regina Rogers, Judi Johnson, Roz Pactor, Mary Ann McKeithan, Ginger Kanaly, Pamela Doty, Tom Elsenbrook, Kay Holmes and Emily Covey. Based in the Society’s Houston office, Taylor Mallia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Bill and Ann Young Melanie Lawson, Franelle Rogers and Lester Smith Moving Toward A World Free of MS 9 LIVING WI T H M S San Antonio Teen Shares Challenges and Purpose after Diagnosis by Kelli Sims Editor’s note: Diagnosed at 15, Kelli Sims is a vibrant young leader in the MS mission. Her Walk MS team, Kelli’s Krew, was one of the top five San Antonio fundraising teams this spring, raising $13,184. A Society scholarship recipient, the San Antonio senior recently shared her MS story with more than 850 students at her high school for MS Awareness Day; Kelli graciously shares her story here with our MSConnection readers. 10 MSConnection • SUMMER 2012 Everyone has had something devastating happen to them. For me, it was my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis on Sept. 10, 2009. After multiple tests and doctors, I received answers to all my odd symptoms. MS can be incredibly scary and unpredictable. As the doctor started telling me about MS, I went into hysterics and was unreachable for days. I felt extremely overwhelmed and scared. Multiple sclerosis has given me new challenges and, despite my fear, has led me to meet amazing people and given me hope for the future. “You’re going to practice on an orange first?” I was astonished the nurse teaching us to give my injections was comparing my arm to an orange. Shots have always been one of my greatest fears. After being told about my weekly injections, I became bitter about it. I was relieved after my first shot went well. Then the side effects began. Muscle tightness, headaches, shaking, dizziness and light sensitivity left me dreading my shots. Fortunately, the side effects have reduced over time and are less intense. Aside from my shots, I have to deal with numerous other symptoms that vary from day to day. Since my last severe muscle spasm, I have lost the feeling in my feet and sometimes my body feels numb and tingly like it’s asleep. When I am angry or stressed, these sensations usually reoccur. I spend time every week at physical therapy undergoing muscle spasticity and pain treatments. I have a larger team of doctors than I ever imagined, but I am grateful for them. Aside from my other symptoms, MS has caused fatigue. Fatigue is a hard symptom for a busy fundraisers. It is amazing how some people care enough to go out of their way to help another. People are surprised to hear I was diagnosed at age 15. Prior to my diagnosis, I was not well educated about the disease. The only knowledge I had was a memory of a character with MS in a book I read. Had I known more about the disease before my diagnosis, I would have been a more avid supporter. I feel one of the reasons I was given this disease is to spread awareness. I stand out because I am a child with MS and gain more attention because of the rarity. Often I feel people don’t take my disease seriously In May, Kelli received because I don’t another memorable honor. Her high school look sick and peers crowned her 2012 they don’t Prom Queen. She was understand MS. also voted “Most Likely I try to politely to Brighten Your Day.” educate them, Congratulations, Kelli! but feel that more people should already know what MS is. I try to spread awareness so that more burden on others and not only being people will have knowledge about the disease. unable to do the things I love, but While being diagnosed with keeping others from doing what MS was initially devastating and they love as well. is undesirable, it helped me meet MS has brought me its share amazing people and opened of obstacles. However, one thing I numerous opportunities. Having will never regret is meeting several MS led me to the Society and, after amazing people. After becoming witnessing the passion of those who involved with the National MS dedicate time to the organization, it Society, I was inspired by their gave me their passion as well. optimism. Countless people work My diagnosis has given me to ensure that people like me can hope, instead of bringing me down. live with encouragement and It has given me challenges, but I have without fear. I have become close gained a sense of purpose. I do not to Society staffers Alyssa Smith and regret being diagnosed with MS Tony Ralf, who are two of the most because it is worth the relationships extraordinary people. My friends I have formed and the stronger and family also support me by participating in National MS Society person I have become. events. Even some acquaintances support me and donate to my teenager to manage. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, tired and unable to do anything. Usually, I try to be optimistic. Yet occasionally, I find myself wondering what the future will hold. I wonder if one day I will be paralyzed or in a wheelchair. At times, I am afraid of becoming a Moving Toward A World Free of MS 11 Two Days, Two Wheels: Bike MS Cyclists Trek Across Texas by James Black For cyclists and those seeking a personal challenge, Bike MS is the premier fundraising cycling series in the United States. This year, thousands of cyclists are joining the National MS Society to saddle up in events throughout the Lone Star State to raise awareness and funds to fuel multiple sclerosis research, programs and services. Earlier this year, the 2012 Bike MS roster kicked off in April with the 28th Annual Houston-to-Austin BP MS 150 – the largest event of its kind in North America with 13,000 cyclists and the Society’s largest single U.S. fundraiser, with a 2012 goal of $17 million – and the 25th North Texas-based Bike MS: Sam’s Club in May. This summer, things heat up with the Bike MS: Cactus and Crude, presented by Apache on July 21-22. 12 MSConnection • SUMMER 2012 From Midland to Post, more than 200 riders will travel across the highways of Texas’ scenic Permian Basin area, with an overnight stop in Big Spring. A week later, the Panhandle gets wild with the Bike MS: Wild West Ride, presented by BP. On July 28, an estimated 300 cyclists will cruise from Amarillo to Sunset Park in Canadian and back again the following day. Later this year, the final Bike MS event of 2012 rolls out from the Alamo City. With a name as big as Texas and plenty of Lone Star-sized fun, the Bike MS: Valero 2012 Alamo Ride to the River starts at San Antonio’s AT&T Center on Oct. 13 and rolls to the overnight stop in New Braunfels. The next morning, thousands of cyclists make the return trip to San Antonio. Participants are fully supported on every leg of each Bike MS route. Thousands of volunteers, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, ride marshals, radio communications crews and more help ensure a safe, smooth trip on ride weekend. In addition to the Texas treks, the Society hosts Bike MS events across the region. Upcoming events will be held in New Mexico Aug. 25-26; in Little Rock, Ark. Sept. 8-9; in Oklahoma Sept. 15-16; and from Louisiana to Mississippi and back Oct. 6-7. For information on the 2012 Bike MS ride near you – including how to participate, volunteer or donate – visit bikeMStexas.org. James Black is the editor of MSConnection and can be reached at email@example.com. Moving Toward A World Free of MS 13 You Can Weather the Rising Costs of Texas’Sizzling Summer Reprinted with permission from AARP-Texas Learn more about what you can do when the cost of staying cool in the summer rises faster than your ability to pay. 14 MSConnection • SUMMER 2012 Protections In Texas, your electricity cannot be turned off during a “weather emergency.” In the summer, a weather emergency occurs when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory for any county in the service territory on any one of the previous two calendar days. Payment Plans If you are getting behind in your payments, ask the utility company to help. You can suggest a payment plan that works for you. You will need to pay your new bill and work on paying off past due bills. Make sure you will be able to afford the new payment plan because, if you miss a payment, the total amount you owe will become due and it will be harder to prevent a shutoff. Budget Billing You can spread the really high cooling costs of summer across the entire calendar year by signing up for budget billing. With budget billing, instead of paying more when you use more, you pay roughly the same amount every month. Anyone who is current on payments can ask for budget billing – also called levelized or average payments – for electric service. Also ask your utility company if you can pick the day of the month that your payments are due. Budget billing is not a discount program; while it offers no savings or lower rates, it will make bill paying more manageable. Shutoff Protections Before your utility can be shut off for non-payment at any time of the year, you must receive a shutoff notice. Retail electric providers must provide you with a written Disconnect Notice. This notice must be mailed to you separately or hand-delivered. You will have at least 10 days from the date the notice is issued to make payment arrangements. Procedures followed by gas utilities will vary. If you Additional Utility Resources For immediate assistance concerning your utility bills, consult the following organizations: Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) Phone: 1-877-399-8939 TDHCA operates a toll-free energy assistance helpline. TDHCA can assist you in locating the billing assistance program agencies in your area, including summer utility assistance. 211- The United Way Phone: 211 are receiving help from an energy assistance provider and sufficient payment has been made, the provider can send a letter to your utility company to prevent your service from being shut off. If turning off your electric service would make a medical condition â€“ including MS â€“ worse, you should submit a letter from your doctor to your utility company. This will delay any shutoff for up to 63 days, but you can re-apply. During that time, you are required to develop a payment plan with the company. Procedures on disconnection and exemptions for critical need customers vary for gas utilities and cityowned utilities. You are encouraged to contact these providers directly to avoid disconnection and make payment arrangements. In Texas, the company that owns your electricity meter and that will disconnect your service is not the same company to whom you pay your bill. Showing your receipt for payment may not be enough to stop a scheduled disconnection. Texas Public Utility Commission Phone: 1-888-782-8477 Offers information on low-income assistance programs, emergency disconnection rules and more. Health and Human Services Phone: 1-866-454-8387 Lite-Up Texas grant funds provider and apply for assistance, call 877-399-8939. Many electric, gas, and city-owned utilities offer assistance programs funded by voluntary contributions from customers. Contact your local utility to find out if additional assistance is offered. Weatherization Assistance You can lower your energy bills by preventing air conditioning from escaping through cracks and gaps around doors and windows. If your annual income is less than $11,963 for one or $16,038 for a couple, you can apply of assistance from the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Priority is given to the lowest income households, and to those with residents who have a disability or are elderly. This program will help you pay for energy efficiency measures, such as insulation and weather-stripping, as well as for emergency repair or replacements. To locate the WAP service provider nearest you, call toll-free at 888-606-8889. Energy Assistance Grants If your annual income is less than $11,963 for one person or $16,038 for a couple, or if you receive food stamps, Medicaid, TANF or SSI from the Health and Human Service Commission, you may be able to get up to $1,200 to help you pay for your immediate utility expenses. How much you will get depends on your total utility costs, your income and the size of your family. If you own your home, the money will be paid directly to your fuel supplier or utility company. If you are a renter and your utility costs are included in your rent, the money will be sent to you. To locate your local service Moving Toward A World Free of MS 15 RE S EAR C H Research Round-Up Hotter Days May Worsen Mental Task Ability People with multiple sclerosis often report worse symptoms when the weather is hot. A recent study concludes that hot weather may also worsen the ability to perform mental tasks in some people with MS. The research may help people plan activities and may improve the design of future clinical trials. Warmer weather tends to worsen many peopleâ€™s neurological symptoms of MS. Research also suggests that relapses are more likely to occur in warmer months; some people may have more MRI-detected active MS brain lesions during these months. This study examined a possible link between outside temperature and the ability of people with MS to perform various mental tasks. Researchers compared 40 people with MS and 40 people without 16 MSConnection â€˘ SUMMER 2012 MS or any other condition that might have affected the results. Each participant was tested for the ability to process a mental task and for learning and memory. The average outside temperature on the testing day was recorded. The results showed that people with MS tended to perform worse when the weather was hotter than when it was cooler. People without MS performed equally as well regardless of the outside temperature. This study has several implications. Awareness of heat-related problems with mental tasks may impact lifestyle decisions; for example, whether to take a mentally-challenging college course in the summer or winter. The results also suggest that clinical trials involving people with MS should take temperature into consideration when designing the study and interpreting the results, especially when cognitive testing is used as a treatment outcome measure. Eye Movement Training Focuses on Improved Balance A controlled study suggests that a six-week balance and eye movement-focused exercise program improved balance, reduced fatigue, and reduced disability because of dizziness or disequilibrium in a group of people with MS. The effects lasted for at least four weeks following supervised training. Larger and longer studies are needed to determine how long the benefits last, and which people with MS would be most likely to respond to the program. The study by Jeffrey Hebert and colleagues at the University of Colorado, Aurora was partially funded by a pilot research grant from the National MS Society. This study is the first to examine the effects of an exercise program involving balance and eye movement training â€“ or â€œvestibular rehabilitationâ€? -- in people with MS to see if it improves both fatigue and balance. For this controlled study, 38 people with MS were divided into three groups: one group did not participate in an exercise program and only received normal MS medical care; one group participated in a general exercise program involving endurance and stretching; and one group participated in the vestibular rehabilitation program specifically designed to improve balance. The endurance and stretching exercises included bicycle riding and exercise designed to stretch various muscles. The vestibular rehabilitation program included balance exercises on various surfaces, arm movements while kneeling, head movements on a trampoline and while fixating on different objects, and ball catching while walking; the program also included three types of eye movement exercises. Exercise programs were performed for 60 minutes twice a week in the clinic; a daily home exercise program, consisting of a subset of exercises performed in the clinic, was also assigned to each Moving Toward A World Free of MS 17 participant. The exercise training programs lasted for six weeks. Effects on balance, fatigue, dizziness, depression, and walking ability were examined at the end of the six-week program and then four weeks after the program had ended. At the end of the six-week period, the group that underwent the vestibular rehabilitation program showed improved balance, reduced fatigue, and reduced disability due to dizziness or disequilibrium. Depression and walking ability were minimally improved. Four weeks after the exercise program ended, those in the vestibular rehabilitation program group continued to show benefit. Based on these preliminary results, balance and eye movement training may help people with MS who are experiencing fatigue and balance problems. Those wishing to explore this option should consult with their neurologists, local rehabilitation facilities or hospitals to see whether this type of training is available. Local MS Clinics Provide Specialized Care The National MS Society has MS centers and clinics in Texas, located throughout the Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio areas. Each provides specialized care and services for persons living with MS. The interdisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses and other health professionals in these centers and clinics have significant experience and expertise in multiple sclerosis. To locate an MS clinic near you, call the Society at 1-800-344-4867. Study Provides Intriguing Lead on Immune Attack Factor A study by Dr. Magdalena Laska and colleagues at Denmark’s Aarhuis University suggests that components of a virus called HERV-Fc1 (for human endogenous retrovirus) – which are derived from genes normally found in the DNA of all humans – are present at higher levels in plasma and on immune 18 MSConnection • SUMMER 2012 cells in people with active MS. The study provides an intriguing lead to a factor that may either cause or result from immune attacks in MS or other disorders. Further research will be needed to better define the unknown role of this factor and its possible implications for people with multiple sclerosis. Dallas and Houston Researchers Examine MS Triggers in Kids Investigators nationwide are recruiting children with early relapsing-remitting MS or CIS (clinically isolated syndrome, a single episode of MS-like symptoms), and children without MS or CIS for a four-year study to determine environmental and genetic risk factors that make children susceptible to developing MS. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, leverages the National MS Society’s support of the Promise: 2010 Pediatric Network of Centers of Excellence. Findings from the study should help researchers understand more about how MS begins in children; this better understanding can eventually be applied to adult forms of MS. Those under age 18 who had disease onset (MS or CIS) in the last two years may enroll in this study with the consent of their parents. Children without MS or CIS can enroll if they are 19 or younger and don’t have a demyelinating disease or an autoimmune disorder (except asthma). Texas sites that are enrolling participants include the MS Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and The University of Texas Southwestern Pediatric Demyelinating Disease at Children’s Hospital in Dallas. For further information on this study, contact Janace Hart with the University of California – San Francisco at 415-514-2476. For more information on these and other MS research advances, visit the Society online at nationalMSsociety. org and click the Research tab. Moving Toward A World Free of MS 19 National Multiple Sclerosis Society Lone Star Chapter 8111 North Stadium Drive, Suite 100 Houston, Texas 77054