Top MS researchers and experts from around the globe recently met up for the Modifiable Lifestyle Factors in MS workshop, organized by MS Research Australia.

The workshop was attended by a wide variety of people from within the MS community, including researchers, clinicians, allied health professionals, people living with MS and MS organisations. Professor George Jelinek and Dr Terry Wahls were among the experts who presented.

The idea for the workshop came about after a 2016 survey revealed that gaining a better understanding of lifestyle factors in MS was frequently mentioned as a key priority among researchers.

These lifestyle factors include diet, exercise, stress reduction and environmental exposures. More specifically, researchers identified the need to further investigate the role of lifestyle factors in:

In a news release on their website, MS Research Australia explains: "Bringing together researchers and experts of all kinds to discuss the current knowledge and challenges for research in this area would be the best way to accelerate progress and promote collaboration to improve outcomes for people with MS." Attendees explore the potential role for modification of lifestyle in preventing MS onset, preventing disease activity and disability progression, and improving overall quality of life. The Modifiable Lifestyle Factors in MS workshop centred around:

  • identify key opportunities and challenges in MS research
  • determine the required research methods, collaborations and projects needed to improve outcomes for people with MS

Dr Lisa Melton, Head of Research at MS Research Australia explains: “We wish to explore how we can capitalize on our Australian strengths and international connections to extend our current knowledge.

We need to translate the current evidence we have on MS risk factors into effective interventions to improve outcomes and quality of life for people with MS.” It is promising to see that the goals of the Modifiable Lifestyle Factors in MS workshop overlap so strongly with those of the OMS 7-step Program.

Based on the discussions held at the workshop, MS Research Australia hopes to develop a set of diet and exercise guidelines that will be incorporated into standard medical management of MS. For more details on the various presentations and discussions that took place at the workshop read MS Research Australia's overview here.