Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute Physicians And Their Medical Students Present Research at the American Academy of Neurology National Conference   

Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute Physicians And Their Medical Students Present Research at the American Academy of Neurology National Conference

Doctors and medical students at the Hackensack Meridian’s Neuroscience Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center presented their findings and research this week at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Boston, April 22-27, 2023.

Florian P. Thomas, M.D., Ph.D., Founding Chair & Professor, Department of Neurology at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and  Hackensack University Medical Center, presented a poster at the conference in conjunction with two of his medical students, SeoYoun Chang and Catherine Imossi. The poster focused on recognizing neuropathic pain as a significant patient-reported Charcot Marie Tooth Disease (CMT) symptom. 

CMT is a hereditary disorder that affects some 130,000 people in the U.S. It causes damage to the peripheral nerves—the nerves that transmit information and signals from the brain and spinal cord to and from the rest of the body. Patients with CMT experience weakness, numbness, and tingling.  Because longer nerves are affected more, symptoms usually begin in the feet and lower legs before reaching the fingers, hands, and arms.

Pain has long been an under-appreciated feature of CMT.  Analyzing patient-reported outcomes collected via an online survey tool by their collaborator, Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation, the group found that patients with CMT report pain as a significant contributor to disease burden.

The study found that most patients with CMT experience mild to moderate pain at least once per week. Pain severity was associated with heightened social isolation and diminished life satisfaction. “These findings suggest addressing neuropathic pain will go a long way in improving quality of life in these patients, “ Dr. Thomas said. “We can make a difference in CMT patients' lives if we find ways to address their pain. ”

A grant from the Orphan Disease Center at the University of Pennsylvania funded the group’s research.

Dr. Thomas is the Director of  The Hereditary Neuropathy Center in the Neuroscience Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center.  The center provides patients with state-of-the-art care for CMT and other neuromuscular conditions. Neurologists are actively engaged in hereditary neuropathy and ALS research and advocacy, and the team is currently participating in multiple clinical trials that seek to establish novel treatments for ALS & CMT.

Krupa Pandey M.D., Director of the Neuroscience Institute’s Multiple Sclerosis Center at Hackensack University Medical Center and associate professor of neurology at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, spoke at the AAN Conference. Dr. Pandey delivered an update on medications currently in use in progressive and relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS). The presentation highlights the progression of MS independent of relapsing activity. It is an important concept that both patients and clinicians need to consider when starting patients on therapy, in addition to monitoring its efficacy. Contrary to earlier studies, disability worsening in relapsing MS can occur without an associated relapse. “Emerging research suggests that worsening of function in MS  occurs on a continuum, and the transition from relapsing to progressive MS is likely a process that begins at the start of the disease, which makes it imperative to start treatment early in the disease,” said Dr. Pandey. 

Dr. Pandey also presented a poster at AAN on the long-term safety and efficacy of dimethyl fumarate (DMF), a widely used oral therapy for MS. The research followed patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) undergoing DMF treatment in routine clinical practice for up to five years. Results from the interim analysis demonstrate ongoing effectiveness for patients on DMF. In patients with more than five years of DMF treatment, relapse rates were low for the overall population as well as for patients newly diagnosed with MS. The treatment is considered safe long-term, with GI disorders as the primary reason for drug discontinuation. Fewer than eight percent of patients discontinued the treatment because it was no longer effective. The team concluded DMF is an effective and safe long-term treatment for MS.

About the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute

The Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute is the largest, most comprehensive Neuroscience Institute in New Jersey. Consisting of the neurology and neuro-surgery programs at Hackensack Meridian three academic medical centers, Hackensack University Medical Center, Jersey Shore University Medical Center and JFK University Medical Center, the Neuroscience Institute is a leader nationwide.  The Neuroscience Institute’s accolades include Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in Hackensack, NJ is ranked among the nation’s best hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery by US News and World Report (#42). All Neuroscience Institute centers have earned the comprehensive Stroke Center designation from the Joint Commission, and the Institute includes Centers of Excellence in ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, and Cranial Surgery. The Institute has also earned additional recognitions for excellence from Healthgrades, the Joint Commission, and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The Neuroscience Institute boasts state of the art neurological technology including High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, Quicktome  brain mapping and Surgical Theater augmented reality for brain surgery, the only sites in New Jersey offering these services. The Neuroscience Institute will soon offer Zap-X Radiosurgery with Synaptive MRI, allowing for the non-invasive treatment of brain tumors and other brain conditions in as little as one week from diagnosis, the first in the world to offer this technology pairing.

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