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MS presentation
At a presentation hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Lone Star
Chapter are (from left) Clarissa Montemayor, 1999 UTSA finance graduate and
MS patient; MS patient Nadine Medeiros and researcher Thomas Forsthuber.

UTSA immunologist awarded $500K for MS research

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(April 10, 2006)--UTSA immunologist Thomas Forsthuber, M.D., has been awarded a $510,000 grant by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to help develop a novel type of treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

Over his 15-year career studying MS, Forsthuber has received three National MS Society grants, including his most recent, a first for the San Antonio community. Forsthuber is one of UTSA's most recent hires, part of its commitment to reach premier research university status.

"The National MS Society and their local chapters have been fantastic and a perfect example of how you forward research in autoimmune diseases and other types of diseases," said Forsthuber. "They have a very strict peer-review system in how their money is distributed and the kind of research they support."

Forsthuber's research will focus on eliminating certain types of immune cells that are believed to promote MS in patients. MS is a chronic, sometimes disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Symptoms vary but can include numbness in the limbs, paralysis and loss of vision in patients with prevalence for females. Scientists believe the disease is caused by an erroneous attack of the immune system on the central nervous system.

Forsthuber is one of 15 faculty members comprising UTSA's new South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. The center's researchers are focusing on critical areas of human health including anthrax, tularemia, cholera, Lyme disease, desert valley fever and other parasitic and fungal diseases.

"The research Dr. Forsthuber is doing is very exciting and gives hope to persons living daily with the devastating effects of this disease," said Patricia Bodet, executive director, South Texas Region of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "It's wonderful to see money for multiple sclerosis research directed into the San Antonio area."

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease affecting the central nervous system. It is not contagious or directly inherited and most MS patients have a normal or near-normal life expectancy. There is no cure, but drugs can help slow the course and symptoms in some patients.