A LOCHGELLY woman with multiple sclerosis (MS) has praised the ‘startling’ progress research has made in fighting the condition.

Ruth White, 42, was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2004 and has since gone on to have the secondary progressive form of the condition.

This MS Awareness Week (22-28 April), MS Society Scotland are encouraging people to support the research that will eventually lead to a cure for people living with the condition like Ruth.

Ruth talked positively about the studies going on in Scotland and what they could mean for people with secondary progressive MS and the wider MS community.

Ruth said: “My gran also had MS and the progress in treatments since she was living with the condition and now is startling – it gives me a lot of hope.

“I’d love to think there will be a cure in my lifetime and I certainly think we will be a fair way down the road in the coming years.”

MS affects your brain and spinal cord as the coating that protects your nerves (myelin) is damaged, which can cause a range of symptoms.

In secondary progressive MS disability steadily accrues due to the damage of the nerves that follows the loss of their coating.

Professor Charles Ffrench-Constant, at the University of Edinburgh, is researching the relationship between cells that make myelin (the nerve coating that is damaged in MS) and nerve repair in more detail.

He was positive on the progress already made by medical research and the potential for further developments in the coming years.

Professor Ffrench-Constant said: “Though we are at an early stage in this work on nerve repair this is an incredibly exciting area of research to be involved in.

“If we’re able to find ways to encourage nerve fibre regeneration in MS we could be on our way to reversing some of the effects of it.

“And that could have huge implications for living with MS and people who have had MS in the longer term.

“It’s incredibly important that we continue to look into the ways we can treat all kinds of MS and projects like this could potentially have impacts for people who don’t currently have access to therapies.

“We’re better able to treat MS than ever before and I think the research going on in Scotland is going to play a big role in stopping it in the future.”

Professor Ffrench-Constant’s research is one of 10 projects currently being funded by MS Society throughout Scotland and a further 48 across the UK.

It is hoped that his research could find a way to encourage nerve fibre regeneration in MS, we would be closer to reversing the disability associated with the condition. Though the project is at an early stage it could pave the way to finding new treatments that could do so.

Ruth added: “I take some pride from the fact that Scotland is playing a key role in this research and I’m hopeful that we’ll see significant breakthroughs made here.

“Knowing that research is being funded is great news for people living with MS and those who might be diagnosed in the future and I hope that continues.”

Scotland has one of the highest rates of MS in the world and more than 11,000 of us in the country have the condition.

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said: “Continued funding into research projects like these is crucial in the fight to stop MS.

“Finding more – and better – treatments for people with this often painful and exhausting condition is our priority as we continue to look for the breakthroughs that will one day produce a cure.”

MS is unpredictable and different for everyone and affects how we walk, see, move, think and feel.

Subjects being researched in Scotland range from nerve regeneration to the role vitamin D might play in causing the condition with the overall target of stopping MS in its tracks.