Welcome to Living Well with MS. In this episode, we are delighted to welcome neurologist, Professor Stephen L. Hauser as our guest. Professor Hauser has been researching MS since the 1970s, and his team’s research led to the development of the disease-modifying therapy ‘Ocrevus’. He talks to Geoff about the future of DMTs for MS, what autoimmunity is, and how he and his team developed one of the most world-renowned MS DMTs.
Keep reading for the key episode takeaways and Professor Hauser’s bio.
Questions and Timestamps
01:45 Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your work?
04:23 What is autoimmunity and how does it relate to MS and inflammation?
06:37 Are some people more prone to develop autoimmune conditions?
10:11 How can a person get the most out of the time they have with their neurologist?
14:01 The benefits of participating in a clinical trial.
16:01 How is MS similar or different from other brain conditions?
20:11 Is there a role of infection in brain diseases like MS?
23:10 The role of hygiene in autoimmunity.
25:40 Book excerpt and how Ocrevus was developed.
32:53 What’s next in B-cell research and MS?
37:58 What tips do you have for lifestyle modifications for people who have MS?
Selected Key Takeaways
Research suggests a viral infection is a trigger for autoimmune diseases including MS.
20:48 “There is no question that infection is a very important part of understanding the mystery, not only of MS but of all other autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases have almost certainly increased dramatically in modern societies, even though the historical record is difficult to follow. Our societies have also changed dramatically over time, and because of that, we come into contact with viruses and bacteria at different times in our lives, in different ways than we did in the past. We think that infection, especially when it's encountered later in life, can trigger a misdirected immune response in MS against myelin and other brain substances.”
In the near future, we will likely have new ways to treat and cure MS.
37:02 “I think we're moving to a whole new concept of how to treat MS and other autoimmune diseases that is a little bit like cancer therapies, where we will induce a complete remission and then maintain and monitor that remission. What do we mean by a cure? In some forms of B-cell cancer, for example (cancer is not multiple sclerosis) but in B-cell cancer, if all evidence of the disease is gone for three years, then the lifetime risk of it ever recurring is less than 1%. That could be the kind of goal that we could have for people with MS.”
Lifestyle has a huge impact on the quality of life for people with MS.
38:53 “A healthy lifestyle is key; it can have a huge effect. A regular balanced diet [and] adequate sleep is as important as anything else. Our immune system changes dramatically when our sleep is too short or interrupted. I'm a big believer in exercise and in doing things that you love to do, find the path that makes you optimistic and self-confident despite having MS. These can have huge advantages for people [with MS]. Being in tune with your body, and your needs, and being as healthy as you can, is enormously helpful.”
More info and links:
- Read more about Professor Hauser from the American Brain Foundation
- Read The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries: The Education of a Doctor
- New to Overcoming MS? Visit our introductory page
- Connect with others following Overcoming MS on the Live Well Hub
- Visit the Overcoming MS website
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Professor Stephen Hauser’s bio:
Stephen L. Hauser is a professor of the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) specialising in immune mechanisms and multiple sclerosis (MS). He is also the Director of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences.
During the Obama administration, he served as a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.
Development of DMT
Professor Hauser led groundbreaking research which led to the development of a new B cell depleting drug, Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus), offering a powerful and promising new approach to treatment for previously untreatable forms of MS.
He has received numerous awards including the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, the Dystel Prize, the Charcot Award, the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Research, and the Scientific Breakthrough Award from the American Brain Foundation.
In 2023, he released his memoir, 'The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries,' in which he shares the story of his life’s work to find a treatment for MS.