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An interview with Professor Alan Thompson

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In commemoration of World Mind Day 2021, Information-Medical spoke to famend neurology skilled Professor Alan Thompson from College Faculty London about his unimaginable profession in mind analysis.

Please may you introduce your self and inform us about what impressed your unimaginable profession in mind analysis?

My identify is Alan Thompson and I’m a Professor of Neurology and NeuroRehabilitation on the UCL Queen Sq. Institute of Neurology and Nationwide Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. I’ve additionally been Dean of the UCL School of Mind Sciences and Professional Vice-Provost for London.

I used to be drawn into my profession in Mind Analysis by my fascination for A number of Sclerosis, a standard situation in Eire, and the maybe naïve perception that I may make a distinction in our understanding of the situation, thereby growing efficient therapies and improved administration for these with MS, bettering their high quality of life and well-being.

I used to be very lucky to have two nice mentors, Professor Michael Hutchinson in Dublin, and Professor Ian McDonald in London, who supported and guided me in the course of the vital early levels of this journey.

World Mind Day is widely known all over the world yearly. This yr it’s devoted to a number of sclerosis (MS) which is a neurological illness affecting 2.8 million individuals globally. Might you inform us extra about a number of sclerosis and why it impacts so many individuals?

A number of Sclerosis is a posh, disabling neurological situation which entails plenty of processes together with irritation, demyelination, and axonal harm and loss. The exact reason for MS isn’t clear however it’s a complicated mixture of genetic and environmental elements. MS tends to have an effect on younger individuals within the prime of their lives and is among the commonest disabling neurological situations affecting this age group.

Within the majority of these affected, the situation begins with assaults or episodes (known as relapses) after the preliminary episode which known as a clinically remoted syndrome. Frequent preliminary episodes contain the optic nerve and each sensory and motor pathways. The vast majority of these affected enter a progressive and extra disabling part of the situation after a variable interval.

A number of Sclerosis. Picture Credit score: Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz/Shutterstock.com

There are therapies obtainable for a number of sclerosis however entry to this medicine continues to be unavailable in lots of elements of the world. Why is that this and what might be performed to assist enhance entry to all?

Few neurological situations have seen such therapeutic advances as A number of Sclerosis – significantly for the sooner relapsing/remitting part of the situation (round 20 therapies now obtainable).

Nonetheless there’s a very broad vary of ease of entry and it may be very poor in center and lower-income international locations – primarily due to price and the restricted well being companies obtainable. It wants a concerted worldwide effort if that is ever to alter.

The important thing messages this yr for world mind day 2021 is incapacity, prevalence, training, entry to therapy, and advocacy. What can individuals, governments, and organizations do to assist increase additional consciousness of a number of sclerosis and its signs?

A collaborative worldwide strategy is required and umbrella organizations such because the MS Worldwide Federation and the Worldwide Progressive MS Alliance are nicely positioned to assist coordinate and drive this endeavor.

Loads of your analysis all through your profession has concerned a number of sclerosis. Why have you ever discovered this to be such an vital a part of your work?

As a junior physician, I used to be struck by how little we had been capable of do to assist individuals affected by MS (at the moment there was no efficient therapy) – we simply appeared to be watching them deteriorate.

I felt there was an actual alternative to enhance our understanding of MS and was significantly struck within the early Nineteen Eighties by the insights Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may present – in investigation, prognosis and as vital biomarkers in medical trials. I’ve been significantly targeted on exploring mechanisms of incapacity utilizing this ever-evolving instrument.

MRI Scan

MRI Scan. Picture Credit score: Shidlovski/Shutterstock.com

What areas of mind analysis are you at the moment specializing in?

I’m concerned in plenty of areas – from the medical aspect, bettering prognosis and dealing on phenotypes alongside engagement in medical trials, whereas on the analysis aspect my focus has been extra on exploring mechanisms of incapacity – significantly regarding the spinal wire and specializing in progressive types of MS.

Nonetheless, it’s in my function as Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Progressive MS Alliance that I really feel I’ve probably the most impression. It has been thrilling and really rewarding to see how this (comparatively lately established) group has introduced researchers, clinicians, individuals affected by MS, and trade colleagues collectively to lift the profile and drive the analysis agenda of Progressive MS.

How has the continuing COVID-19 pandemic affected your analysis?

Inevitably it has delayed my very own imaging analysis but in addition has delayed the work of the Alliance’s worldwide networks over the past 18 months.

Nonetheless, it has additionally introduced out the willpower, resilience, and collaboration of our neighborhood and it’s exceptional to see how all our actions have re-started with renewed power and enthusiasm.

COVID-19 has additionally taken up an enormous quantity of analysis over the past yr with many scientists and organizations working collectively to develop efficient therapy methods.  How may this degree of collaboration be used to develop efficient therapy methods to cease the development of a number of sclerosis?

It’s a nice mannequin of concerted, collegiate exercise – which resulted in progress at velocity, navigating long-standing obstacles, which modern approaches. That is significantly related once we take into consideration how we trial in MS and the way we are able to speed up our processes for efficient therapies in progressive MS.

All through your unimaginable analysis profession what has been your proudest second?

I might have mentioned that my findings across the sample of MRI abnormalities in major progressive MS was my proudest second however now I might be extra inclined in direction of the work of the Progressive MS Alliance which has had an actual impression – and naturally receiving the Charcot award final month – which actually mirrored all of the work my colleagues and group have performed over the past 30 years.

Lastly, do you imagine that with continued analysis and additional consciousness, we may assist gradual, and ultimately cease, the development of a number of sclerosis?

Completely – I believe we’re already nicely on the best way to slowing – and can ultimately cease development – in all probability nicely earlier than understanding MS sufficiently to stop it.

The place can readers discover extra info?

Papers regarding A number of Sclerosis:

  1. Thompson AJ, Banwell BL, Barkhof F…Cohen J.  Analysis of a number of sclerosis:  2017 revisions of the McDonald standards.  Lancet Neurology 2018; 17:162-173. (IF 30.039).  Citations: 980. Hyperlink: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1474442217304702
  2. Montalban X, Gold R, Thompson AJ et al.  ECTRIMS/EAN guideline on the pharmacological therapy of individuals with a number of sclerosis.  A number of Sclerosis Journal, on-line 20 January 2018 (IF 5.412); European Journal of Neurology 2018; 25:215-237 (IF 4.516 ).  Citations:  72. Hyperlink: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1352458517751049
  3. Thompson AJ, Baranzini S, Geurts JJ, Hemmer B, Ciccarelli O.  A number of Sclerosis. The Lancet 2018; 391 (10130):1622-1636 (IF 60.392).  Citations: 41. Hyperlink: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30481-1/fulltext
  4. Ontaneda D, Thompson AJ, Fox RJ, Cohen JA.  Progressive a number of sclerosis:  prospects for illness remedy, restore, and restoration of perform.  The Lancet 2017; 389:1357:1366. (IF 60.392) Citations:  77. Hyperlink: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673616313204

Relating to the WHO Important Medicines Listing work :

About Professor Alan Thompson

I’m at the moment a advisor neurologist at Queen Sq. and a Professor of Neurology and NeuroRehabilitation at UCL. I’m Dean of the UCL School of Mind Sciences – considered one of UCL’s largest and most profitable School and have, as well as, the thrilling function of Professional Vice-Provost London. I’m the editor-in-chief of the A number of Sclerosis Journal which matches from energy to energy and, after all, I chair the Scientific Steering Committee of the Progressive MS Alliance.   Professor Alan Thompson

I went into the sphere of A number of Sclerosis within the hope that I would be capable of make a distinction and it has been fantastic to see the way it has gone from an untreatable to a treatable situation over the past twenty years – and it is going to be nice to see the identical sample evolving for these with the progressive type of the situation.

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