BloodCenter of Wisconsin investigator awarded $700,000 grant for multiple sclerosis research

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MILWAUKEE — BloodCenter of Wisconsin (BCW) Senior Investigator, Bonnie Dittel, PhD,  has received a $700,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as part of a comprehensive research strategy aimed to find new treatments for the disease.

The award will advance Dittel’s work at BloodCenter’s Blood Research Institute into how certain cells in the body can fight off the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an auto-immune disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information between the brain and body. The immune system turns against the body, damaging tissues in the brain and spinal cord and causing inflammation. However, “B cells”, the body’s own defense mechanism against inflammation, could be the key to stopping MS symptoms.

“Discovering new information is what research is all about,” said Dittel, who also serves as an adjunct professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  “This is the next step in better understanding MS and finding treatments to help people with this disease.”

MS is typically diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and is at least two to three times more prevalent in women than men. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to cognitive challenges, blindness and paralysis. MS affects more than 11,000 people in Wisconsin, which is one of the higher rates in the nation.

“These new research investments are intended to answer questions that address the unmet needs of people with MS,” said Colleen G. Kalt, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. “We are funding scientific breakthroughs that will propel the knowledge we need to end MS and identify everyday solutions that change the lives of people with all forms of the disease.”