Sheffield woman backs multiple sclerosis research project

Sheffield Hospitals Charity is appealing for support to fund a new research project being undertaken in the city that could help find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 10:54 am
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 2:41 pm
Professor Basil Sharrack, Consultant Neurologist and Professor John Snowden, Consultant Haematologist, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

MS affects more than 100,000 people in the UK and is the most common cause of physical disability in young adults. It can cause pain, fatigue, problems with memory and thinking, speech, vision problems and loss of mobility. There is no effective treatment the condition and existing treatments focus on alleviating symptoms. But Sheffield scientists Professor Basil Sharrack and Professor John Snowden are determined to find better treatments – and even a cure – for MS.

One of these 100,000 people, and a patient of Professors Sharrack and Snowden, is Allison Parfitt, 50, from Sheffield, who has had MS since 2008. Allison said: “When I was diagnosed, I felt like my whole world was falling apart around me. MS controls my life. I feel exhausted all over - my whole body is tired, right down to my fingertips.

“The research going on here in Sheffield gives me hope. Hope that one day, I’ll receive that call to say a cure’s been found. It would be good to know that people in the future won’t have to go through what I have.”

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The project will be delivered by Professor Basil Sharrack, Consultant Neurologist and Professor John Snowden, Consultant Haematologist from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

Professor Sharrack said: “For the first time ever, we’ve been able to reverse disability in some patients with MS using a brand new stem cell therapy trialled right here in Sheffield and it’s like nothing we’ve seen before. First we destroy the faulty immune system that causes MS and then we replace it with a healthy new one, grown from a patient’s own stem cells, in some patients it has reversed some of the disabilities associated with their MS condition, but this isn’t suitable for everyone as stem cell treatment can be quite aggressive.”

Professor John Snowden added: “For the first time, it feels like a cure for MS could be right around the corner. That’s why it is so critical that our research goes ahead.”

Sheffield Hospitals Charity aims to raise £200,000 to support the research. To donate to the project visit www.sheffieldhospitalscharity.org.uk/msresearch