Indian-origin medic backs new multiple sclerosis algorithm in UK

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LONDON, May 2 (PTI): An Indian-origin consultant neurologist is among a team of UK researchers behind a new algorithm for better monitoring of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients to improve treatments of the disease.

Dr Sivaraman Nair, Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said assessing the changes in the way patients with MS walk is key to understanding the progression of disability.

“It is particularly important to look at these indicators at an early stage as it can also tell us about the effectiveness of the medication they are taking,” he said.

The algorithm development by researchers from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, when paired with wearable sensors, provides more informative and effective monitoring of the way MS patients walk in real life.

The study titled ‘Free-living and laboratory gait characteristics in patients with Multiple Sclerosis’, published this week in the journal ‘PLOS ONE’ will help clinicians more easily assess the effectiveness of existing treatments and disease progression in MS patients.

Dr Nair said, “Currently, mobility of MS patients is assessed in specialised gait laboratories. The relevant technologies can be expensive and require highly skilled personnel. The impact of this research could therefore be significant for patients as well as cost-effective”.

“The potential applications of this research are not just limited to MS but could be used for other conditions that could benefit from monitoring gait, such as Parkinson’s disease,” he said.

Up until now, gait analysis has only been carried out in laboratories. Doctors at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals approached researchers at the University of Sheffield and asked them to help find a way to measure how patients walk in “real life” conditions.

The next stage of the research will involve working with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre (for Translational Neuroscience) to conduct a larger clinical study.

Pharmaceutical companies are investing 50 million euros in research linking digital assessment of mobility to clinical endpoints to support regulatory acceptance and clinical practice.

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability.

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