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Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers,Focuses on the Challenges of Care and Research in Multiple,Sclerosis

WASHINGTON, June 01, 2007 /PRNewswire/ -- The annual meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), the largest meeting devoted to the comprehensive care and science of multiple sclerosis (MS), is underway in the nation's capital today. Multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system that affects 400,000 people in the United States, challenges patients, care partners and healthcare professionals in many ways. The meeting provides specialists in the fields of MS healthcare, research, advocacy, community service and education to keep abreast of the latest information on patient care delivery systems and evidence-based practice.

Below are three highlights from the conference that reflect the caliber of innovation and inspiration at the meeting.

    1. Dr. Randall T. Schapiro was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award

       by the CMSC on May 31st.  This award recognizes the accomplishments of

       leading figures in MS care and research for their contributions to the

       CMSC.  Dr. Schapiro founded the first comprehensive MS center in the

       United States, the Fairview MS Center in Minneapolis, which he

       continues to direct.  A founder and past-president of the CMSC and a

       member of the Board of Trustees of the CMSC Foundation, he serves on

       the boards of the International MS Society and the National MS


       "Dr. Schapiro is much beloved by his patients," said June

       Halper, Executive Director of the CMSC.  "He has dedicated his life to

       the service of people with MS.  His innovative MS program includes

       everything from the first MS Achievement Center, coordinated rehab

       services, home care services, outpatient and inpatient care, to

       education and research."

    2. A web-based program was premiered on May 31st on the latest strategies

       for treating MS-related spasticity, a very difficult symptom of the

 It includes discussions on non-pharmaceutical strategies and

       assessments, medication management, rehabilitation, and for some

       instances, intrathecal delivery of baclofen, a technology that has

       revolutionized rehabilitation in MS.  Developed by a team on behalf of

       the CMSC, headed by Dr. Francois Bethoux, Danni Gogol, RN, and Matt

       Sutliff, physical therapist, it will be featured on the CMSC website

       after the launch.  The development of this program was a CMSC project

       partially supported by Medtronic, Inc.

    3. Numerous presentations throughout the week will focus on new and

       important information about MS research.  A new feature of CMSC

       includes a "late breaking" poster session on June 1st in which Dr. Mark

       S. Freedman, Professor of Neurology at the University of Ottawa, will

       share results from a study that validates that immediate treatment of

       early stages of MS with an immunomodulatory agent can significantly

       slow the onset of disability.

Dr. Freedman is an investigator of the study called BENEFIT (BEtaseron in Newly Emerging multiple sclerosis For Initial Treatment) that tested whether earlier stages of MS can also benefit from pharmaceutical intervention. Results showed that prompt initiation of Betaseron treatment in patients with a first MS attack was associated with a 40 percent reduced risk of confirmed disability progression over three years. This study confirms that early treatment is desirable in MS to avoid or diminish long-term disability. Betaseron is approved for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to reduce the frequency of clinical exacerbations. Patients with MS in whom efficacy has been demonstrated include patients who have experienced a first clinical episode and have MRI features consistent with MS.

For information about the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, please visit

CONTACT: June Halper, Executive Director of the CMSC,

Web site:

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