I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

More on CCSVI

The following information on CCSVI research is published on the NMSS website:
Reports from seven multi-disciplinary teams investigating CCSVI (chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency) in MS indicate that they are making good progress toward providing essential data and critical analysis as these two-year projects move toward their completion. The studies were launched on July 1, 2010 with a more than $ 2.4 million commitment from the MS Society of Canada and the National MS Society (USA). The ongoing work by the seven teams will help inform the design of an early-phase clinical trial that is expected to launch in late spring 2012 with funding from the MS Society of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The research teams have recruited and scanned a broad spectrum of people with MS and others to build understanding of who may be affected by CCSVI. In addition they are refining CCSVI imaging methods for accuracy and consistency to reliably validate the occurrence of CCSVI and understand its implications in the MS disease process. All of the seven teams are working under approvals from the required Institutional Review Boards in the U.S. or the Research Ethics Board in Canada, a first step established by regulatory authorities to protect human subjects involved in research projects.
Already more than 800 people have undergone scanning with various imaging technologies being used by the studies, including the Doppler ultrasound technology used by Dr. Paolo Zamboni and his collaborators, as well as magnetic resonance studies of the veins (MR venography), catheter venography, MRI scans of the brain, and clinical measures.
Representatives of each of the seven funded teams are part of the CIHR’s Scientific Expert Working Group. In November 2011 the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced the release of a Request for Proposals seeking grant applications from researchers to conduct an early-phase clinical trial in Canada to test the ability of a surgical procedure called balloon venoplasty to improve blood drainage in individuals with MS who have been identified as having CCSVI. The request for research proposals is a collaborative initiative between the CIHR and the MS Society of Canada. The working group will provide leadership and advice concerning the clinical trial, and will continue to monitor and analyze the data from the seven studies and other studies related to CCSVI and MS around the world.
Several teams have presented, or are planning to present, preliminary results at medical meetings. Because the studies employ rigorous blinding and controls designed to collect objective and comprehensive data, the full results of the ongoing research will be available only after completion of the studies which will involve more than 1300 people representing a spectrum of MS types, severities and durations, as well as individuals with other disease types and healthy controls.
“The research underway is significantly advancing our understanding of CCSVI and what its relationship might be to MS disease process,” notes Dr. Tim Coetzee, chief research officer at the National MS Society. Dr. Karen Lee, Vice President Research at the Canada MS Society, concurs, “We are pleased that our collaborations with the National MS Society and CIHR are moving us closer to the answers that people with MS need about CCSVI and MS.”
Details of Progress
The funded investigators, who are drawn from a broad range of disciplines ranging from MS neurology, vascular surgery and interventional radiology, report progress in establishing standardized protocols, recruiting and scanning participants and in the development of plans for sharing their findings, as summarized below.
• Dr. Brenda Banwell, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario
Dr. Banwell’s team is seeking confirmation for findings that Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency is a cause for MS. If impaired venous drainage occurs as a key part of the beginnings of the MS process, then venous abnormalities should be present even in the youngest MS patients. The team is now studying children and teenagers with MS to determine whether the venous system is abnormal in a population where the disease process is at a very early stage. Unlike adult MS patients, children are very unlikely to have any age-related changes in blood vessels, and do not have any of the adult-onset health conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, use of medications) that might complicate the ability to determine whether blood flow patterns are due to MS or other causes. Their ultrasound team has received training from Dr. Zivadinov’s group in Buffalo, and has created ultrasound and brain imaging procedures suited to explore venous drainage in children. They plan to assess 30 children with MS, 30 healthy children of the same age, and 30 “graduates” (young adults who experienced the onset of MS during childhood and who received care and prior brain imaging studies at the Hospital for Sick Children). Enrollment began in December 2010 and Dr. Banwell’s team has reported that it is going well. To ensure the highest standards of scientific accuracy, they intend to analyze their findings once all 90 participants have undergone the testing; which will help to determine whether impaired venous drainage is indeed a core component of MS.
• Dr. Fiona Costello, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
The University of Calgary team has initiated a prospective cross-sectional study to determine the association between ultrasonography (US) and magnetic resonance venography (MRV) measures of venous outflow in MS patients. This study will evaluate 120 people with MS (including 65 with relapsing-remitting MS, 20 with secondary-progressive MS, 10 with primary-progressive MS, 10 with neuromyelitis optica, and 15 with pediatric MS) and 60 age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects. To date, 98 participants have been recruited. The main outcome measure will be the proportion of cases and controls with US and MRV evidence of extracranial venous outflow obstruction. Secondary outcomes will include MRI measures of brain inflammation, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores, and extracranial US measures of venous wall thickening and jugular valve competence.
The team published a paper based on the cases of five people who had experienced medical complications after undergoing procedures focused on treatment of venous abnormalities: “Complications in MS Patients after CCSVI Procedures Abroad.” Burton JM, Alikhani K, Goyal M, Costello F, White C, Patry D, Bell R, Hill M. (Calgary, AB).

• Dr. Aaron Field, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison
Official approval of this study protocol was issued on June 28, 2011. The team continues to actively recruit study subjects from a database of approximately 100 MS patients who had contacted them since the study was first announced, as well as from the patient population seen regularly in their MS clinic. Thus far, 17 people with MS and 12 healthy controls have undergone both MRI/MRV and ultrasound imaging. No results are yet available as the study is blinded.
Since the previous progress report, Dr. Field was awarded a $27,000 grant from his institution to further investigate the novel MRI components of this study in healthy controls, particularly with regard to reliability and reproducibility. Specifically, they investigated (1) the use of a novel method to adjust venous flow measurements for variations related to breathing and heartbeat, (2) the use of a novel MRI method for measuring the iron content in brain tissue, and (3) the use of a relatively new, FDA-approved MRI contrast agent (a drug administered intravenously to enhance the visibility of blood vessels on MRI) that can enhance the visibility of head/neck veins and enable the measurement of blood flow through brain tissue. Ten healthy subjects underwent these components of the team’s CCSVI protocol twice, on separate days. Progress made in these studies includes:
• The team’s novel approach to measuring venous flow with MRI is able to detect clear differences in venous flow between inspiration and expiration, and demonstrates evidence of expiration-related reflux (backwards flow) in the jugular veins of healthy subjects.
• The team’s system of rating the degree of venous narrowing on MR images of the azygous and jugular veins yields comparable results when performed by different individuals.
• Their novel MRI method for measuring iron content in brain tissue provides reproducible results that are comparable to previously described methods of iron measurement, with fewer technical pitfalls.
• A single dose of a relatively new MRI contrast agent is sufficient to enhance the visibility of head/neck veins and generate reproducible maps of blood flow through the brain. (It would normally require two separate doses of a conventional contrast agent to accomplish both of these objectives.)
These investigations have yielded two abstracts presented or to be presented at national/international imaging meetings:
“Comprehensive assessment of cerebral venous return with MRA: preliminary results.” Wieben O, Johnson K, Schrauben E, Reeder S, Field A. 23rd annual meeting of the “MRA Club” (International Magnetic Resonance Angiography Workshop), Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 25-28, 2011.
“The importance of the sonographer in the investigation of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency.” Kohn S, Kliewer K, Field AS. American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) Annual Convention, Phoenix, AZ, March 29-April 1, 2012.
In addition, three abstracts have been submitted for consideration for the American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR) 50th Annual Meeting, New York, NY, April 21-26, 2012, and two have been submitted for the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) 20th Annual Meeting & Exhibition, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, May 5-11, 2012.
• Dr. Robert Fox, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland
Dr. Fox’s team continues to use MR venography, ultrasound, MRI and clinical measures in people with MS or who are at risk for MS (CIS) and comparison groups to evaluate vein drainage. The ultrasound team, which underwent training in the technique originally used by Dr. Zamboni, found several aspects of the published methodology ambiguous, and they have standardized the protocol and analysis to achieve consistent results.
Early on they identified physiological and technical factors that can complicate screening for vein blockages using ultrasound, including that heartbeat irregularities, stages of breathing, head position and pressure applied by the operator could alter results; and that the state of hydration of the subject (whether they drank adequate amounts of fluids) might impact results of several of the criteria used to determine CCSVI.
The team reported at the international ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS congress in October 2011 preliminary results of ultrasound assessments. Pooling the results of the ongoing, blinded study of CCSVI in MS and non-MS controls, they reported results from the first 20 subjects, finding that 6 (30%) met criteria for CCSVI, four subjects met no criteria, and none met criteria for reverted postural control of cerebral venous outflow. Nine subjects (45%) had a flap and/or septum/abnormal valve. Identifi¬cation of deep cerebral vein reflux depended upon the ultrasound technique. They noted that this finding highlights the importance of ultrasound methodology in performing and interpreting deep cerebral vein assessments. (P1104 – “Ultrasound assessment of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency.” R. Fox, L. Baus, C. Diaconu, A. Grattan, I. Katzan, S. Kim, M. Lu, L. Raber, A. Rae-Grant)
At the same ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS meeting, the team shared preliminary results from an ongoing study of vein structure in autopsy specimens from seven people who had MS in their lifetimes, compared to six people who did not have MS. In this unblinded study, they identified abnormalities inside the vein tubes (lumen) that drain the brain and found a variety of structural abnormalities and anatomic variations in both groups. However, they reported higher frequency of abnormalities in those who had MS (2 abnormalities in 2 out of 6 controls versus 9 abnormalities in 6 out of 7 MS patients). They noted that MR venography may be less effective than ultrasound for identifying these venous abnormalities, and that ultrasound that examines only vein wall circumference may miss some intraluminal abnormalities. (Abstract 134 – “Anatomical and histological analysis of venous structures associated with chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency.” C. Diaconu, S. Staugaitis, J. McBride, C. Schwanger, A. Rae-Grant, R. Fox)
• Dr. Carlos Torres, The Ottawa Hospital, University of Ottawa, Ontario
The team began phase 1 of their project which consists of imaging with MRI the veins of the head and neck of 100 people without MS. MR venography is also being performed to obtain normative data that will allow the team to better understand the normal anatomy and variants of the veins before they begin to examine the veins of the subjects and controls.
So far, they have performed this additional sequence in 85 people and expect to complete the target of 100 within the next 2 weeks. Further, they have gathered MRI studies of 30 people with a specific sequence that allows them to measure the amount of iron in the brain. The iron deposits are being quantified by an MR Physicist.
In order to perform the ultrasound studies of the veins in the head and neck the same way they were done as described by Dr. Zamboni, the team received training in Vancouver from an experienced group who received training in Italy. Two sonographers and a radiologist traveled to Vancouver and received appropriate training on the technique in mid-May.
In early September, the team reported that they successfully started phase 2 of the study recruiting subjects and controls through the Ottawa Hospital MS Research Unit. Since then, they have recruited a total of 30 people with MS (with relapsing-remitting, primary-progressive or secondary-progressive MS) and 30 controls (60 total), who have undergone both a contrast enhanced MRI and an ultrasound of the veins of the head and neck. The team is currently scanning approximately 4 people with MS and 4 controls per week. They expect to complete recruitment and begin analysis of the data by mid February 2012.
• Dr. Anthony Traboulsee, UBC Hospital MS Clinic, UBC Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Katherine Knox, Saskatoon MS Clinic, University of Saskatchewan
This team is conducting their study at two centers (UBC Hospital, Vancouver, BC and Saskatoon City Hospital, Saskatoon, Sask.) and the goal is to recruit up to 200 subjects. Imaging protocols have been both developed and tested and the group is very satisfied with the quality of their results. Their ultrasound technologists were trained by Dr. Zamboni to perform the ultrasound testing in a similar way. There is no previous standardized venography protocol for looking at neck veins.
Recruitment is now closed at the University of British Columbia site, and will be closing soon at the Saskatoon site. All investigations are expected to be completed in March 2012. The team plans to do the preliminary analysis by April 2012. Analysis will occur in stages, starting with the catheter venography and ultrasound data, then the MR venography results will be reviewed.
The team reported that the level of interest and response rate remained high throughout recruitment. The UBC site recruited 110. At the Saskatoon site, 70 subjects have been recruited and are at various stages of the protocol. All investigators remain blinded to the status of the subjects and do not have any preliminary results to report at this time.
• Dr. Jerry Wolinsky, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
The team reports that they have recruited about 82% of the expected study cohort. The cumulative number of volunteers recruited from study inception includes: 10 Healthy Volunteers; 34 Other Neurological Diseases; 22 Stroke/TIA; 12 CIS; 112 relapsing-remitting MS; 44 secondary-progressive MS; 1 progressive-relapsing MS; 15 primary-progressive MS. Of people with MS or CIS, 45 have undergone MR venography with advance MRI. In addition, to date 10 people with MS have consented to transluminal venography, 2 are scheduled for study and 4 have completed the procedure without complications. No therapeutic interventions are considered in these investigations.
Dr. Wolinsky and the team’s MR vascular expert, Dr. Larry Kramer, are members of the MS Scientific Expert Working Group established by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in collaboration with the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada, and additional team members have participated in the meetings and provided advice to the CIHR as requested.
A summary of the team’s preliminary work was presented as a poster at the international ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS congress in October 2011. They used Doppler technology to evaluate venous drainage in a blinded fashion. They reported that of all participants, 48/162 fulfilled at least one of five criteria for anomalous venous outflow proposed by Dr. Zamboni; 10/48 fulfilled two criteria consistent with CCSVI; none fulfilled more than 2 criteria. There was no significant difference between people with MS and non-MS, or within MS subgroups. They also found no significant differences between MS and non-MS subjects for measures of cross-sectional areas of the internal jugular veins or for venous flow rates. The team concluded that thus far they find less CCSVI than previously reported by other groups. They are now focusing on whether ultrasound can be complemented or supplanted by MRV and/or transluminal venography. (P1108 -- “Prospective, case‐control study of CCSVI with imaging‐blinded assessment: progress report focused on neurosonography.” Barreto AD, Brod SA, Bui T, Jamelka J, Kramer LA, Ton K, Cohen AM, Lindsey JW, Nelson F, Narayana PA, Wolinsky JS (2011).
In addition, two abstracts have been submitted for consideration for the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology to be held in late April 2012.
Going Forward
These seven teams were chosen by an international panel of experts that included specialists drawn from all key relevant disciplines including radiology, vascular surgery and neurology. The projects were selected for having the greatest potential to quickly and comprehensively determine the significance of CCSVI in the MS disease process.

At this 18-month milepost, the investigators are making significant progress on their overall two-year study goals. Some of the teams are presenting preliminary results at medical meetings, and all have shared technical advice so that the projects can move forward as smoothly and quickly as possible. Their results will help guide the development of an early-phase clinical trial to test whether treating vein blockages may be safe and effective in treating people with MS. The trial should launch in late spring 2012 with funding from the MS Society of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The next update on the work of the seven grantees will be reported in six months.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blog Anniversary!

Today is my blog's one year anniversary!  It has been a great ride so far and I hope to continue giving updates and reporting on the ongoing research.  Things are going well for me right now - I have been in remission for about a year now (with a few slight flare ups here and there).  I am very pleased with my condition at this point and hope that I can continue feeling this well.

I have signed up for Walk MS which will occur in March - click here to visit my personal page.  I hope to surpass my fundraising goal from last year - I hope that I make it (I am fearful that my goal is too lofty). My local MS Society chapter has already had two events this year and both have been really great!  I am excited about what this year will bring!

And now, MORE news on Vitamin D from the NMSS website:

Researchers and clinicians from around the globe gathered recently in Chicago to develop strategies for testing whether vitamin D supplements can prevent the development of MS. Participants discussed the latest findings relevant to vitamin D and MS and potential clinical trial designs, taking the first steps to making these exciting studies a reality. “Vitamin D and MS Prevention: An International Workshop,” was chaired by Colleen E. Hayes, PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Anne-Louise Ponsonby, PhD (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Canberra Australia), and was funded by the National MS Society.
Background: Research is increasingly pointing to a reduced level of vitamin D in the blood as a risk factor for developing MS. Years ago, MS researchers wondered why MS occurs less often in regions of the world where exposure to sunlight is high. Dr. Hayes – a professor of biochemistry and microbiology – and colleagues suggested that vitamin D, which is made by cells in the skin in response to sunlight, may suppress the immune response involved in MS. She and others have since shown that in lab mice, vitamin D can reduce the effects of EAE, an MS-like disease.
Epidemiologic studies (studies of who gets MS) have backed up laboratory studies. Dr. Ponsonby – an epidemiologist and public health physician – was a co-author of the Ausimmune Study, a comprehensive Australian study that showed that higher levels of sun exposure and higher blood levels of vitamin D were both associated with decreased risk of having a first demyelinating event, often the first indicator of subsequent MS.
The National MS Society has led the way in pursuing this avenue of MS research, funding much of Dr. Hayes’ work, first funding the Ausimmune study, and now, a new clinical trial testing whether vitamin D can reduce disease activity in people who have MS. Read more on clinicaltrials.gov.
The Meeting: Participants included experts in vitamin D studies, immunology, statistics, epidemiology, clinical MS research, pediatric MS, and MS biomarkers. The group began by bringing its vast experience to bear in discussing the promise and potential pitfalls of conducting “primary prevention studies” using vitamin D to potentially prevent MS before it occurs.
“We are people from all over the world and we have one common purpose – to stop this disease,” noted Dr. Hayes. “The research that has been done by the people in this room and others provides us with strong evidence that vitamin D may help.”
Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPH (Harvard School of Public Health) and colleagues have published pivotal studies relating to several MS risk factors. His 2006 study  – supported by the Society – compared levels of vitamin D in blood serum stored from military personnel during their service, and found that those with higher levels of vitamin D were at lower risk for later developing multiple sclerosis. Dr. Ascherio noted a major concern about designing vitamin D studies, based on his research. “Compliance is likely to be a major obstacle,” he said. “You have to worry about people in the placebo group that might take vitamin D anyway, and make the study powerful enough to account for that.”
George Ebers, MD, FRCP(C) (University of Oxford) reported on findings “hot off the press” – his team recently confirmed an association between MS and a gene linked to vitamin D. Dr. Ebers cautioned that before beginning a study, “You absolutely need to know what the rate of MS is in your country,” noting that the reported rates of MS is increasing in some areas.
Dr. Hayes reviewed basic research that could have a strong impact on planned studies. For example, female mice treated with vitamin D are protected from MS-like disease, but not male mice. “Normal estrogen may be essential for vitamin D benefits,” she said. Also, her research points to the immune messenger protein interleukin-10 as being essential for vitamin D protection from MS-like disease in mice. “Anything that destroys that pathway may undermine a treatment trial,” said Dr. Hayes.
Jorge Correale, MD (Raul Carrea Institute for Neurological Research Argentina) discussed his research on the immune response and vitamin D. “Vitamin D is particularly reduced during relapses in people with MS,” he said, noting that administering vitamin D to cells isolated from people with MS resulted in modulation of immune “T cells” which have been previously implicated in MS activity. He noted that cells that reduce inflammation are activated by vitamin D and those that promote inflammation are suppressed.
Reinhold Vieth, PhD, FCACB (University of Toronto) has been studying vitamin D for decades. His team’s findings show that this vitamin is associated with decreased PSA (a marker for prostate cancer), and a decreased risk of breast cancer. His experience provided numerous important considerations for conducting vitamin D prevention trials in MS. “Vitamin D binding protein [a protein that helps to transport the vitamin within the body] acts as a safety buffer to prevent toxicity,” he said. “It protects the body from having too much vitamin D.” Dr. Vieth works with the team that found vitamin D supplements to be safe in small, early study of people with MS.
Co-chair Dr. Ponsonby encouraged participants with her review of similar efforts undertaken to combat other diseases such as folate supplementation to mothers in pregnancy to prevent spina bifida. “I remember being at a primary prevention meeting in the early 1990’s ,like this one, to talk about sudden infant death syndrome prevention, which was taking one in 250 children in Tasmania at that time,” she said. “I thought, ‘How are we going to get this done?’ Five years later, it felt so good to be at another meeting, talking about how, after changes in health recommendation, the rate of SIDS had decreased by up to 70% in several countries.”
Future Steps: After reviewing data and hearing from statisticians and clinicians about the feasibility and expense of primary prevention studies, participants agreed to look at three study designs. The next steps are to submit a report based on the summit to a peer reviewed journal, and to begin the process of designing and seeking funding for the proposed prevention trials.
Timothy Coetzee, PhD, chief research officer of the National MS Society, complimented Drs. Hayes, Ponsonby, and colleagues on the “audaciousness” of their efforts. “Can we end MS by something as simple as vitamin D supplementation? This goal is as big as they come, but it fits right into the Society’s bold commitment to do everything possible to free the world of MS.”
 Always amazed at all of the Vitamin D correlations and continued research.  Guess I will continue taking Vitamin D supplements!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


So far, I am doing well with my resolution.  My husband and I have gone to the gym three times per week since signing up at the Y.  Plus, I have done at least 30 minutes of cardio each time! 

In other news, my local NMSS chapter is having a kick-off event for Walk MS season on Tuesday and I have been asked to speak - to tell my story and why I walk.  I have an outline made (not sure I really need it - my story is one that is imbedded in my brain).  I am very excited and honored to speak this year!

Now, in MS news; the following comes from the most recent MSF emailer:

Advanced Technology Makes MS Easier to Track
Using a powerful, triple strength MRI to track increasing levels of iron found in brain tissue, medical researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have discovered a new way to follow the progression of MS in those living with the disease.
Among their observations: Iron levels in people with MS are increasing in grey matter areas of the brain that are responsible for relaying messages. Also, high iron levels in a specific "relay area" were noted in those who had physical disabilities associated with MS.
Iron is very important for normal function of the brain and the amount of iron is a tightly controlled system by the brain tissue. The discovery suggests there is a problem with the control system. Too much iron can be toxic to brain cells and high levels of iron in the brain have been associated with various neurodegenerative diseases. But to date, no tests have been able to quantify or measure iron in living brain.
Twenty-two people with MS took part in the study, along with 22 people who did not have the condition.
Using this new MRI method would give physicians a new way to measure the effectiveness of new treatments for people with MS by watching the impact on iron levels. This opens up the idea of having a new biomarker, a new way of looking at the disease over time, watching the disease, seeing the progression or lack of progression of the disease, and a new way to track it, the researchers said.
The new MRI method, which uses a machine that is 90,000 times the strength of the earth's magnetic field, will give physicians more detail and information about the impact of MS on the brain, insight that doctors and researchers didn't have before.

Stimulating Natural Interferon-B Production May Combat MS
Some people with MS have successfully slowed progression of the disease using an FDA-approved interferon-b (INFb) medication. Now researchers in Germany are investigating the use of ribonucleic acid (RNA) to stimulate the body’s own production of the IFNb protein, thereby switching off the MS attack.
RNA is one of the three major macromolecules (along with DNA and proteins) that are essential for all known forms of life.
Marco Prinz at the University of Freiburg, Germany, and colleagues took mice genetically modified to present symptoms of MS and injected them with RNA. The mice showed "rapid improvement" with a decrease in tail weakness and paralysis over the following 48 hours. Increased IFNb appeared to slow the development of T-cells - immune cells that may play a key role in MS, the researchers reported.
Around 80 percent of people with MS treated with injections of IFNb develop antibodies that reduce the efficacy of the protein. Getting the body to generate its own IFNb neatly dodges the antibody problem, according to the researchers.
All for now.  Hope all is well!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!  I hope 2012 brings great things!  Hopefully, 2012 will bring the MS community more exciting research, new therapies for ALL types of MS, and leaps closer to a cure.  

In the new year, I resolve to be more active.  My husband and I signed up for a membership with the YMCA.  We had a membership before, but during the time when I was experiencing my first symptoms but before my diagnosis, it became difficult to workout because of the numbness and tingling.  We ended that membership during the fall of 2010, around the time I was diagnosed.  Since then, our "workouts" have mostly consisted of walks around the neighborhood.  Since I have been feeling well for the past year (with a few minor flare-ups in the interim), we decided it was time to get back on the proverbial horse.  I bought a "fitness" swimsuit and plan to do pool workouts to try to avoid heat-induced flare-ups.  Since we signed up a week ago, we have already gone to the Y three times.  I have not started the pool work yet, but plan to this week.  Our NMSS local chapter has a wellness theme this year and in keeping with that, my goal is to get/stay fit and healthy. 

What is your resolution?

In news, researchers have confirmed a link between MS and a gene linked to vitamin D deficiency.  To read more, click here.  I knew that I was smart to be taking vitamin D supplements.  I had my levels checked and was low - I definitely believe that there is a critical link between vitamin D and MS - this research seems to confirm that!