01/03/2018 09:13 GMT | Updated 01/03/2018 09:13 GMT

March Is MS Awareness Month - Here's What You Should Know

Improving awareness of MS is the first step towards better a understanding of the disease

nicoolay via Getty Images

Did you know up to 2.5million people worldwide have multiple sclerosis: yet a cure remains elusive? Research, however, has never been more fruitful, with breakthroughs coming thick and fast. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen significant strides in our understanding of this condition. Here are some of the newest and most exciting advances in the field:

- Antibodies may offer a new alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs, curbing the progress of MS and letting patients enjoy their lives. By neutralising the ‘misguided’ immune cells associated with a disease, an ‘army’ of monoclonal antibodies can be very effective against disease-causing targets: in the case of MS, a type of white blood cell called a B-cell.

- Nanotechnology could hold the answer to curing MS one day: with the help of some very precious metal. Gold nanocrystals may be able to reverse the damage caused by the neurodegenerative disease, as well as restoring mobility to sufferers. Scientists hope that using ‘gold diamonds’ will help to counter MS by boosting the natural process for restoring the nerve-protecting insulation that gets destroyed in its progress.

- Fatigue weighs down MS patients, making it hard to socialise and keep up in jobs: but researchers have discovered that a treatment for depression can significantly reduce its effects. Deep transcranial magnetic brain stimulation, a technique that sends electric currents deep into the brain to stimulate neuron activity, was reported by MS sufferers to reduce tiredness by around 14% on the Fatigue Severity Scale.

- Women fall ill with MS at a higher rate than men - so research is increasingly focusing on sex-specific hormones to develop therapies. The male sex hormone testosterone controls a molecule that prevents many men from developing MS, and tests on female lab mice confirmed that their MS symptoms could be stopped by using that protective molecule.

Now, a new challenge emerges: how can this research best be translated into innovation driving better lives for those with MS?

Improving awareness of MS is the first step towards better a understanding of the disease. MS can affect anyone, and we’re here to provide a source for answering questions that the public might have. Since transparency is a key component of awareness, we want to clarify the research process as much as possible: a clear research process opens up knowledge to the wider public, unlocking the door to innovation, inclusivity and ultimately a fairer and more equitable society.

At Sparrho, we want to support the people who are making a difference in the fight against MS - and the people whose lives the fight affects. That’s why we’re launching a platform specifically offering access to cutting-edge MS research. The platform will provide a new space for patients, doctors, scientists and the public - in short, anyone with an interest in MS - to find and discover the research that’s important to them.

By connecting experts with patients, we’re opening up a space for dialogue between groups that are too often separated. And by ensuring that everyone is able to access the very latest and best in MS knowledge, we’re creating a network of MS expertise that allows researchers to learn from patients - and vice versa.

Moving forward, we want to be at the heart of a field of research that’s generating intense activity and excitement around the globe - in order to be able to report from the centre of the action. Since we know how science changes lives, we want to make sure that it reaches and helps as many people as possible.