Brain Sciences


IoN researchers run Manchester Marathon for Multiple Sclerosis

15 April 2019

A group of researchers from UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology ran the Manchester Marathon on 7th April 2019 in the four-person relay, raising almost £600 for the MS Society.

Group at finish line

The team – Dr Rebecca Samson, Dr Marco Battison, Jon Stutters and Lizzie Powell – came 16th overall out of 192 relay teams, and 9th out of mixed male/female teams.

Dr Samson said the team was delighted with the result, explaining: “In addition to our links with MS research, all of us have known people who have been affected by MS and have therefore seen directly the need for better treatments particularly in the progressive stages of the disease.”

Dr Samson, a Senior Research Associate/MRI Physicist whose research focuses mainly on MRI acquisition and image analysis in MS and spinal cord injury, is working together with Dr Battison on an MS Society funded project grant which aims to evaluate rapid multi-modal quantitative MRI acquisition protocols for the brain and spinal cord, with a specific focus on investigating biomarkers of clinical progression in secondary progressive MS.

Jon Stutters, data manager for the clinical trials office at the Queens Square MS Centre, is currently working on a trial partly funded by the MS Society. Lizzie Powell is a final year MRI Physics PhD student working on improving the diagnostic quality of MRI by developing image acquisition and reconstruction methods, which are applied in MS research studies and trials.

“We all thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to take our enthusiasm for running and make a contribution to MS research outside of our own work,” said Dr Samson.

Multiple Sclerosis is a condition that affects the central nervous system, with myelin surrounding the nerves being damaged, resulting in the loss of conduction of signals from the brain to the rest of the body, resulting in a wide range of symptoms.

More than 100,000 people in the UK have MS, and each year 5,000 people are newly diagnosed with the condition. Most people with MS (around 85%) are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, where people have distinct attacks of symptoms which then fade away either partially or completely.

According to Dr Samson there are some disease modifying treatments available to manage the symptoms of people with relapsing-remitting MS, however there are very few treatments available for progressive MS patients which is why it is so important to fund research and clinical trials in MS.

“It is very difficult to obtain funding to perform research, and charities such as the MS Society through the generosity of their donors, are able to help support researchers such as ourselves and help provide the resources required to perform our studies,” said Rebecca Samson.