Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) is a rare form of myelitis that affects a subset of patients. Supported by The Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation, a national NMO Consortium has been created between Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and the Mayo Clinic.
Currently, retrospective studies are underway to build a database of epidemiologic and demographic information about the NMO patient population in the US in an effort to gain a better insight of the natural history of NMO, the diagnostic approaches, and effective treatments for the disorder.
Our goal is to gain the most comprehensive information to date about the disorder, in an effort to gain understanding into trends, prediction of patterns of recurrence, and when, how, and with what to best treat patients with NMO. Future studies will be focused on study of blood and CSF biomarkers and other predictor factors in NMO on a prospective clinical trial.
Led by Dr Michael Levy and his research laboratory, studies are focused on understanding the pathogenesis of NMO using animal models and cell culture techniques. Based on recent studies that demonstrated the presence of specific antibodies in NMO patients that binds aquaporin-4 (AQP4), Dr Levy's team is trying to understand the relationship of the anti-AQP4 (anti-NMO antibody) to the pathogenesis of NMO and the preferential susceptibility of attacks to the optic nerves and spinal cord in NMO.
Toward this goal, Dr Levy's lab found that AQP4 isoforms are differentially expressed on astrocytes in these tissues compared to other tissues in the nervous system.
For more information:
Visit the Neuromyelitis Optica Research Lab website to learn more about Dr Levy's research initiatives.