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Science highlights of AAN Annual Meeting in Honolulu March 29 April 5

ST. PAUL, MN (April 14, 2003) Progress in the understanding of multiple sclerosis, the treatment of epilepsy, the progression of Alzheimers disease, the prevention of stroke, and even the neuroscience of golf were among the highlights of more than 1,300 scientific studies presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, March 29 April 5, 2003.

Timothy A. Pedley, MD, presented a summary of research highlights at the conclusion of the meeting, a session which has become one of the more popular events of the long-running meeting. New research in Parkinsons disease, ALS, West Nile virus and more than a dozen other neurological disorders presented at the meeting was included. "The quality of the science presented this year was very high," said Pedley, chairman of the AAN Scientific Program Subcommittee that selected the studies that were presented from more than 2,500 abstracts submitted. "The competition among submissions was particularly acute this year."

Highlights include:

Multiple Sclerosis Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the insulation surrounding nerve cells. In a small pilot study, six patients had their immune systems completely ablated and rebuilt from scratch using their own stem cells. Researchers from the Ottawa Health Research Institute found the treatment was safe and well tolerated, and over one year, patients showed no signs of disease progression, suggesting this may be a promising treatment for selected patients. It needs to be replicated in larger trials.

Elevated levels of the protein annexin were shown by researchers from Yale University and University College, London, to increase a type of sodium channel not normally seen in the brain. The number of these channels correlated with worsening ataxia, or loss of coordination, and disease duration. These aberrant sodium channels may contribute to abnormal conduction of impulses, a
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Contact: Marilee Reu
mreu@aan.com
651-695-2789
American Academy of Neurology
14-Apr-2003


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