May 3, 2007
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact: Jennifer Forbes
Phone: (732) 235-6356
Hormone Treatment Study Underway in
Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis at UMDNJ
NEW BRUNSWICK—Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Multiple Sclerosis at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School will participate in a new study testing estrogen as a treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). The program is one of only seven nationwide participating in what is the first large-scale clinical trial of a female sex hormone for the treatment of MS, an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system.
Under the leadership of Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, MD professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and principal investigator for the New Jersey trial, researchers will study the effect the hormone estriol has in the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS, which is the most common form of the disease. Estriol is one of three types of natural estrogen produced by females. Relapsing-remitting MS involves periods of acute attacks, or relapses, in neurological function, followed by full or partial recovery, or remission, periods when the disease appears clinically stable.
"The production of estriol increases during pregnancy, a time when MS sufferers experience a decrease in relapses," said Dr. Dhib-Jalbut. "This is due to the anti-inflammatory protection estrogen is known to provide but may also be attributed to neuroprotective advantages of the hormone, which we hope to verify in the study. If so, estrogen can then serve as a foundation for future therapies."
During a two-year period, the New Jersey program will enroll 18 patients, ages 18 through 51, who are newly diagnosed with MS and who have not received previous treatment for the disease. Participants in the study will receive either estriol or a placebo in a pill form, along with traditional treatments; MRIs will be used to track the progression of the disease in each patient. The national study will include 130 women with early relapsing-remitting MS. If the clinical trial results in positive outcomes for the patients, it will serve as a catalyst for a larger, more definitive study.
The $5 million study is being co-funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, including support by the New Jersey Chapter and the National Institutes of Health. This clinical trial and other gender differences are being studied as part of a special five-year research initiative by the National MS Society.
Enrollment and screening for the trial will begin this month, information for which can be found on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society web site: www.nationalmssociety.com. Information may also be obtained by calling Yaritza Rosario, APN, the nurse coordinator for the study at 732-235-7099 or 732-235-7732.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.