Clinical Support

Brandi Carrico, Research Assistant II
Jim Jemelka, Research Coordinator

If you wish to participate in any of the trials or have general questions please contact our research coordinator at 713.500.7045.

Currently Enrolling Investigational Studies

Ocrelizumab in multiple sclerosis

Primary Investigator: J. WIlliam Lindsey, M.D.
Depletion of B cells is also used in treatment of MS. As of early 2016, it is not an approved treatment, but the results of recently reported clinical trials are very promising. We expect ocrelizumab, an infusion which removes B cells from the blood, will be approved for treatment of MS in the near future. This study will investigate the effectiveness of ocrelizumab in people who have not responded well to another MS treatment. We expect that it will begin enrollment sometime in 2016.

EVOLVE-MS-1 Trial

Sponsor: Alkermes Pharmaceuticals
A phase 3 open label study to evaluate the long term safety and tolerability of ALKS 8700 in adults with Relapsing Remitting MS. Patients with RRMS who want to try a new oral drug for MS which is similar to Tecfidera are eligible. Patients who have discontinued Tecfidera due to side effects are not eligible for this study.

Low Dose fingolimod (0.25 mg)

Sponsor: Novartis Pharmaceuticals
We are currently enrolling in a multicenter trial to compare the effectiveness and safety of low dose 0.25 mg fingolimod and 0.5 mg fingolimod with Copaxone 20mg subcutaneously in RRMS patients. The new oral agent fingolimod has already been approved for 0.5 mg dose, which blocks migration of T cells from the lymph node to the blood stream, and therefore the brain, significantly reducing number of attacks in RRMS patients. To be eligible for this study, patients should be in between the ages of 18–65, have at least 1 documented relapse during the previous year or 2 documented relapses during the previous 2 years.

Neuromyelitis optica treatment with depletion of B cells

Primary Investigator: J. WIlliam Lindsey, M.D.
Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an infrequent but often severe disease which can cause blindness and paralysis. There is no proven treatment, but infusions that remove B cells from the blood are often used, among other very immunosuppressive treatments. This study is the first rigorous test of whether B cell depletion is effective in NMO. This study is funded by MedImmune, the company which makes the treatment.

North American Registry for Care and Research in MS (NARCRMS)

The purpose of NARCRMS is to establish a national registry and longitudinal database of clinical and patient-based information related to multiple sclerosis. It seeks to establish “Cores” of repositories of clinical, genetic, and radiological data, and various biomaterials for developing biomarkers for this disorder across the United States as well as to develop “Research Interest Groups” (RIGS) from within the participating centers to promote collaborative efforts to utilize the data as they become available, to address specific unanswered questions in this disorder. Enrollment to begin in Summer 2016.

Epstein-Barr Virus & MS

Primary Investigator: J. WIlliam Lindsey, M.D.
EBV is a common virus which has been linked to MS in several different studies. Some people think that EBV may be one of the causes of MS. Dr. Lindsey is investigating the connection between EBV and MS and is currently comparing the immune response to EBV in MS and controls. Participants will donate a blood sample to be used for measurements of EBV-specific antibodies.

Other Research Projects in Progress

Track MS Initiative

MRI brain scan

Primary Investigator: Léorah Freeman, MD The long-term goal of the Track MS initiative is to facilitate the widespread use of key MRI measurements in the clinical setting for the benefit of patients with MD. As a first step, we are currently developing robust MRI monitoring tools to automatically measure lesion burden, lesion change over time, brain atrophy and other markers such as brain perfusion. Next we will determine the best markers to predict patient outcome and treatment response. Finally we will create a platform to apply these prediction measures to all MS patients in our clinic.

 

Illustration of automated detection of new lesions using MRI subtraction software

Role of grey matter hypoperfusion in subsequent brain atrophy

Primary Investigator: Léorah Freeman, MD, PhD In a recent study, Dr. Freeman demonstrated that MS patients who later develop significant brain atrophy (a marker of disease progression) present decreased cerebral blood flow early on. Cerebral hypoperfusion is a potential link between inflammation and neurodegeneration in MS. In the upcoming months, Dr. Freeman will study the role of Endothelin-1, a potent vasoconstrictor produced by activated astrocytes, in the development of cerebral hypoperfusion in MS patients and its relation to markers of both inflammation and tissue damage.

G.E.M.S: Group Exercise in MS – A collaborative project between UT Neurology, the YMCA of Greater Houston and the National MS Society Texas Chapter

The objective of the GEMS project is to develop an MS-specific, easily accessible 12-week exercise program for people with MS. Currently in the design phase, the program will include aquatics, yoga, strength and balance training, stretching and education sessions. Once designed, the efficacy of the program will be evaluated by a formal controlled study with physical and radiological endpoints. The pilot study will take place at Trotter YMCA. Recruitment will open in fall 2016/winter 2017. Our long-term goal is to offer this program throughout the city and possibly the state of Texas!

YMCA