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Barts & The London MS Research Day 2011

The REFINERY has been busy editing the talks from the Barts Multiple Sclerosis Research Day for Patients and their Families, which was held at Church House Conference Centre at the end of March 2011.

Church House Conference Centre - our location for the event

Despite accidentally coinciding with the massed unions anti-cuts protest march which brought most of central london to a standstill, the research day was unaffected, with a few people who would otherwise have joined the march tweeting their support from inside the venue.

As well as filming the events of the day, we also created some quirky, fun films to introduce some of the key speakers, and were also involved in creating some humorous animations and cartoons to help explain some of the concepts.

It also saw Friend of the Refinery, Simon Donald (“Him Off The Viz”) give a short talk about his experiences making a documentary with us (see this page for the trailer) and the world premier of a specially commissioned animated sequence (“MStermind”) by Oddball Media.


The day was a resounding success with positive feedback from attendees and contributors alike.

The talks and films can be found on our youtube channel and also on our own event web page.


Simon’s Adventure’s in Brain Science.

Simon Donald is probably best known for being one of two brothers who founded witty and irreverent magazine du jour of the 1980’s, Viz magazine. Behind the humour, lay a sadder story. Simon’s mother, Kay, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as a young woman. After his birth, her health deteriorated badly. By the time she was 35, she was wheelchair bound, and she died in her 50’s, in 1994, unable to walk, speak or eat unaided, and never able to play as full a part in the lives of her three sons as she would have wanted.

In this documentary, Simon takes the shadows of the past head on and invites them into the boxing ring. He wanted to know everything there is to know about the disease that killed his Mum, but he wasn’t expecting his journey to take quite such a shocking turn……

Ningbo Science Centre

In 2010, the REFINERY was lucky enough to embark on a project with international design consultancy, MET studios, to design exhibits for a brand new science centre opening in Ningbo, China. The Refinery acted as science consultants and were involved in the exhibit design concepts and subsequently the detail of the science content for each individual exhibit.


The Ningbo centre comprised three new galleries, Harmonious Homes, Universe and Oceans, and the REFINERY provided the science content for the 100 or so exhibits in each one. This work involved finding the data to back up the scientific concepts being explained, provide decision making matrices for software and game components, and writing scripts for audio-visual and Pepper’s Ghost exhibits.


MS Research Day Talks 2010

Introduction to the talks by Prof Gavin Giovanonni

PART 1 Introduction and Synopsis

PART 2 – Introduction (ctd) Can we Cure or Prevent MS?

An introduction to the Immunology of MS – Ute Meier

PART 1 History of Autoimmunity

PART 2 Introduction to the immune system

PART 3 A word about “mimicry” and Epstein-Barr Viruses

PART 4 Natural Killer (NK) cells and Future Research

Understanding the Pathology of MS – Sandra Amor

PART 1 Introduction to cell types in the brain: goodies and baddies.

PART 2 How do we protect nerve cells – looking at lesions – what do we see?

PART 3 – How our research fits into the equation

PART4 The Role of Macrophage Activation on Lesion Formation

MRI and MS – Klaus Schmierer

PART 1 What is MS – epidemiology and what is MRI ?

PART 2 Why is MRI useful in people with MS?

PART 3 What are the limitations of MRI and how does it help us understand and monitor MS?

PART 4 How can we overcome these limitations and what comes next?

MS and CCSVI – coming soon, awaiting formal publication of new results.

PART 1 What is the theory behind CCSVI, and how it differs from other theories of MS etiology.

PART 2 A summary of the published findings.

PART 3 Findings of a second group’s attempt to replicate the research, and what is the impact of a highly publicized trial on public perception of the evidence?

A Model of MS – David Baker

PART 1             Why safe drug development requires the use of animal models

PART 2            What MS drugs would we be using if no animal models were used?

PART 3 How do we create a good model of MS?

PART 4 The time scale of new drug development and recent developments in MS drugs

Neutralising Antibodies to IFN – Rachel Farrell

PART 1.  What is interferon and how does it work in MS?

PART 2. What are neutralizing antibodies, who gets them?

PART 3. How our research is being used to help patients in the clinic.

Nataluzimab and PML – Ben Turner

Part 1. PML incidence with Natalizumab teatment, Tysabri, and what causes it (JC Virus)

PART 2.  Looking for JC Virus DNA  – is incidence related to duration or exposure of patients to Tysabri?

PART 3 The pathophysiology of JC Virus, PML and Natiluzimab (Tysabri)

PART 4 The Good News – The effects of Tysabri are reversible in MS patients.

Emerging Oral Therapies for MS – Giles Elrington

PART 1 –  Understanding data and clinical trials

PART 2 –BG12, Laquinomod, Teriflunomide

PART 3 –  Cladribine

PART 4 – Cladribine (ctd)

PART 5 – Fingolimod

PART 6 – Is It Safe?

Stem cell therapies in MS – Yuti Chernajovsky

PART 1 What are stem cells

PART 2 – Where do we get stem cells from?

PART 3 What can stem cells do for ms therapy?

PART 4 So what are the problems with stem cells ?

PART 5 inflammation is a necessary process

PART 6 Our Research –inflammation resistant stem cells and site specific biological drug delivery systems

Neuroprotection in MS Sarah Al –izki

PART 1 Neuroprotection

PART 2 The role of sodium channel blocking drugs

Sam Jackson – Remyelination in MS.

PART 1 Introduction

PART 2 Myelination

PART 3 Remyelination

PART 4 Our research – making “mini brains”

Wellness and Rehabilitation in MS – Melinda Martin

PART 1 The Concept of Wellness in MS

PART 2 The Effect of Fatigue in MS

Monitoring MS – Ruth Dobson

PART 1. How We Monitor MS

PART 2  Is There a Need for Change?

Preventing MS – Sreeram Ramagopalan

PART 1. Preventing MS

PART 2. Why sunlight and Vitamin D could be key factors

A Letter from Prof. Gavin Giovanonni

Gavin GiovannoniDear Attendees


Thank you for attending the first Barts and The London Research Day for People with Multiple Sclerosis and their Families. The primary aim of this meeting is for the Neuroimmunology Group at Barts and The London, Queen Mary University of London, to update you on the latest research in multiple sclerosis; with a particular focus on the research we are involved in.


The idea for today’s meeting came from a session we held for people with MS in Southend last year. The specific purpose of that session was to ask people with MS to be part of a specific research project we were undertaking. The meeting was a great success; we recruited over 30 people with MS for the study. But both during and even after the meeting, we received several requests to consider making it an annual event and also to give feedback to the participants on the results of the research project, if we could. So it seemed we had found a forum that people with MS and their families could benefit from in ways we hadn’t appreciated before. The meeting also allowed people with MS and their partners to meet and talk to scientists informally in a relaxed environment over drinks.


Another reason for holding today’s meeting is to fulfil our obligations to the funders of our research, who require us to engage with the general public, people with MS and their families and other people with an interest in MS. We also believe you have the right to know what we are spending our research money on, as the purpose of our work is to improve our knowledge and understanding of MS with the goal of improving the lives of people living with this disease.


We did a web-based survey of people with MS to explore what would be the best forum for disseminating information about our research. To our surprise people with MS want it all; a website, a blog, a facebook site, a twitter site, regular emails, newsletters, webinars, question and answer sessions and regular meetings like this. We have already launched a blog and will soon be launching a website. We also plan to post our lectures on the web.


For us as a group of MS researchers, this initiative has allowed us to reflect on our work, assess its potential impact and plan for the future. For example, for some of the research projects you will hear about today, we need your help; this may be as a volunteer for a particular study or simply helping us to spread the word.


Another benefit for the group is that the day brings us together without the usual weekly distractions and hence provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our successes. I am also very proud to lead the Neuroimmunology Group at Barts and The London and would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their achievements and commitment and perseverance towards our ultimate goal: a world free of MS.


Thank you for being here today!


Gavin Giovannoni,


London, 30th January 2010


P.S. Please make sure we have your contact details for our website launch. MS Research Blog: https://multiple-sclerosis-research.blogspot.com/