Bob Matthews (66) was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 2007, but believes he’s been living with the condition for longer.
This MS Awareness Week (April 22-28), MS Society Scotland is encouraging people to support the research that will eventually lead to a cure for people living with the condition like Bob.
Bob spoke about the importance of continuing research into treatments and the causes of MS.
He said: “I’m always delighted to hear about progress in MS research.
“The idea that younger people diagnosed with the condition will get more help is incredibly positive and I’d like to see us keep moving forward.
“I’m optimistic we’ll find a cure. I don’t know what timescale that will be on but the only way we can get there is to keep on working towards it.
“It’s important that people are aware of MS and how it affects people and what can be done to stop it. Promoting research and showing the difference it does make to people is a key part of that.”
MS affects your brain and spinal cord as the coating that protects your nerves (myelin) is damaged, which can cause a range of symptoms.
While in relapsing remitting MS people have relapses, where symptoms get worse but then get better, in progressive forms of the condition disability steadily accrues.
Dr Julia Edgar at the University of Glasgow is interested in how the scientific community could tackle progressive forms of MS by finding out more about the process where nerves become damaged throughout the condition.
She was positive on the progress already made by medical research and the potential for further developments in the coming years, saying: “Better understanding of how progressive MS affects nerves is the primary target of my research.
“There are now a number of treatments available for relapsing remitting MS on the NHS in Scotland but it’s crucial we find more about forms of progressive MS and the research going on across the country should help this.
“It’s incredibly important that we continue to investigate the causes of progressive MS and, with the research going on in Scotland and across the UK, hopefully in the future we will be able to stop MS in its tracks.”
Dr Edgar’s research is one of 10 research projects currently being funded by MS Society throughout Scotland and a further 48 across the UK.
It is hoped that her research could lead to the development of treatments that minimise the damage that leads to disability in the condition.
Bob added: “Seeing the number of research projects in Scotland – as a country with such a large number of people with MS – is great. It’s a very personal condition and for our country to be a key part of the fight to stop it is encouraging.”
MS is unpredictable and different for everyone and affects how we walk, see, move, think and feel.
Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said: “Continued funding into research projects like these is crucial in the fight to stop MS.
“Finding more – and better – treatments for people with this often painful and exhausting condition is our priority as we continue to look for the breakthroughs that will one day produce a cure.”
Subjects being researched in Scotland range from nerve regeneration to the role vitamin D might play in causing the condition with the overall target of stopping MS in its tracks.