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More MS news articles for July 2003

Professors get $1 million to study MS

Wed, July 9, 2003
Associated Press
Vermillion, S.D.

A husband and wife research team at the University of South Dakota will use a $1 million federal grant to look for new treatment options for multiple sclerosis.

Keith and Robin Miskimins, both biomedical science professors in USD's School of Medicine, will receive the four-year grant, from the National Institutes of Health.

The award is among the 10 largest of its kind ever won by the university.

The Miskiminses will work with 10 others to investigate failures within the nervous system that may bring on symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

MS, an often progressive disease that attacks the nervous system with unpredictable results, afflicts more than 400,000 Americans and 4,000 people in the Dakotas, according to Marcia Olson of the National MS Society.

The cause of MS is unknown.

Doctors have used medication to prevent attacks, but new treatments focus on propping up the immune system.

The Miskiminses will focus on central nervous system cells that have an outer fatty membrane called myelin that serves as insulation. In MS cases, the myelin is not properly maintained, and that impairs neurological function, Robin Miskimins said.

Their goal is to understand the mechanism controlling the growth and survival of the cells to find ways to regenerate myelin production.

"If you can control the destruction, you can effect a cure," Robin Miskimins said.

Keith Miskimins said several researchers nationally are doing work that parallels the USD research. But the work at USD is "unique in that we're probably the only group doing the approach we're doing," he said.

The Miskiminses have no time line to publish what they learn, but they hope to produce results during the four-year period of their grant.

Copyright © 2003, Associated Press