Research at the Mellen Center
The Mellen Center staff and the individuals who come here for care maintain a strong partnership in MS research. Research is aimed at unraveling the complexities of the disease process, developing methods to measure disease activity and severity, and improving treatment.
Mellen Center clinicians and investigators in the Lerner Research Institute maintain a close working relationship. Basic studies related to MS in Mellen-affiliated laboratories seek to elucidate mechanisms of central nervous system inflammation, the nature of neural damage and its causes, pathologic correlates of MRI, and the mechanisms of action of MS medications. Mellen collaborators also have played a key role in developing new methods for imaging MS.
Mellen clinicians have played a central role in the development of new treatments for MS. Recent clinical trials of new MS therapies included: fingolimod (FTY-720) in both relapsing-remitting and primary progressive MS, fumarate (BG-12), fampridine (4-aminopyridine), alemtuzumab (CAMPATH-1h), ocrelizumab, glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) combined with interferon beta-1a (Avonex), laquinimod, atacicept, and atorvastatin (Lipitor). It is anticipated that these studies will lead to a sizable number of new treatment options. Mellen Center physicians occupy leadership positions in all of these multinational trials. Studies of mesenchymal stem cells and other neuroprotective/repair strategies also are in development.
Some of the ongoing non-treatment clinical research studies include:
- A clinical trial of a web-based self-monitoring program, which aims to develop the Internet for use in patient self-management.
- Diffusion tensor MR imaging studies of natalizumab (Tysabri) and corticosteroids (methylprednisolone), which will develop new imaging markers of degeneration.
- A biomarker study of interferon beta-1a (Avonex) therapy, which hopes to predict who will respond to therapy.
- A functional MRI study of hand movements and vision, which aims to understand how the brain re-organizes after injury from MS.
- Studies of optical coherence tomography, which seek to develop a new approach to monitor neural degeneration.
- A 15-year follow-up of patients in the pivotal trial of interferon beta-1a (Avonex) in relapsing–remitting MS.
Training opportunities are available in all of the Mellen-affiliated research laboratories. The Mellen Center offers four non-ACGME-approved post-doctoral fellowship positions in clinical neuroimmunology. Fellows have the option of focusing on clinical and rehabilitation training in a one-year program or on clinical research training in a two-three year program.
Mellen Center patients can participate in leading-edge research trials. Our current clinical trials are categorized as enrolling non-treatment trials, enrolling treatment trials, and ongoing research.