MS AND VITAMIN D BREAKTHROUGH

A breakthrough study has been released in Australia by Dr Mark Stein of Melbourne Hospital, linking multiple sclerosis (MS) and vitamin D. This link has the potential to shed light on not only the cause of MS, but also possibly a cure. 

This study is the first of hopefully many to discover the link between MS and vitamin D, and, as a result, MS Australia are pushing for a larger scale trial to study this link more closely.

Katelin Meredith reports for The Milk Moustache.

VO: This weekend, the annual City to Gong bike ride marked its 30th year. This year, 10,000 people made the 96km ride south to Wollongong from Sydney, to raise money for multiple sclerosis in Australia. But this year, the riders had some extra inspiration, spurred on by some breakthrough research linking vitamin D and MS, an auto-immune disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Prue Guillaume of MS Australia believes this study is a step in the right direction to finding the cause and cure of MS, but she believes a lot of work still needs to be done.

Prue Guillaume: There still needs to be a lot of clinical evidence to back that up before organisations like ours can go and tell people to definitely take vitamin D for MS, but that’s not happening at the moment, and we’re advocating for those vitamin D trials very strongly.

VO: This year, MS Australia is hoping to raise $4.5 million for support services for MS sufferers, and moreover, to advance the vitamin D research. Published in the Journal of Neurology, this breakthrough study released in Australia, was conducted by Mark Stein of the Melbourne Hospital over the last two years. It tested a variety of vitamin D dosage levels on MS sufferers, in a hope of discovering if this supplement had a positive effect on the treatment of the disease.

Kerry Morris is one of the many people involved in the fundraiser and is excited by the overwhelming support they’ve received this year.

Kerry Morris: The event’s been 30 years in the making and is aiming to raise $4.5mil, so that money will go towards providing services for people with MS, and probably go towards research and finding causes of MS, and hopefully coming up with a cure.

VO: To date, there has not been much hope for sufferers, as the cause of the disease remains largely unknown.

It is thought that the new theory linking both genetic and environmental factors to the cause of MS is possibly what has led scientists to finding this relationship between multiple sclerosis and vitamin D.

Prue Guillaume: Interestingly, there’s a lot of evidence that where you live in Australia makes a little bit of a difference; so more people in Tasmania per capita have MS than you would have in Queensland. So the closer you get to the equator, the less chance you have or having multiple sclerosis, and that’s lead a lot of research into vitamin D and what impact it has on the disease.

VO: While this study was the first of its kind in our country, Prue and MS Australia are hoping this has created the awareness needed to start further, larger scale trials, that will be able to conclusively determine this link.

Prue Guillaume: There will be future studies in Australia we hope, and we will be advocating for that to happen. So we’ve gone to government with submissions to fund vitamin preliminary trials and we’ll be actively trying to get funding for that. Research is very expensive, but to do a proper study of whether vitamin D can make a difference, we need the dollars to be able to run a big clinical trial and we’re committed to doing that.

VO: Gail Carter and Kerrie Gill are first time riders in the event this year, both riding for people they know with MS.

Gail Carter and Kerrie Gill: It’s been great fun, it’s been great fun leading up to it, being involved in the fundraising, getting excited, nervous and being able-bodied. Some people don’t have the opportunity to get out and about, so it’s great. Absolutely, live every moment you can, this is a great opportunity to do that.

VO: As part of the fundraising for the city to gong bike ride, Gail and Kerrie have raised nearly $2,000 for MS Australia, and believe its great to know their money can be put to such beneficial research in the future.

Gail Carter and Kerrie Gill: It’s been exciting actually, people have been really, really generous and supportive. I think it’s a great opportunity for raising money, as people support not only MS Australia, but us as mates and family members, encouraging us to do something worthwhile.

VO: This is Katelin Meredith for The Milk Moustache.

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