Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Research

Pediatric MS research

CHOP's Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Clinic is actively involved in research studies to improve your child’s care. Our research coordinator will contact you a few days prior to your visit to discuss your child’s eligibility for these studies. Some of the studies for which we are currently enrolling involve noninvasive tests. All our studies will be explained in detail at the time of your visit. If you cannot participate in these studies on the day of your appointment, you may participate at a later date.

Our Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Clinic is actively enrolling patients and healthy controls in a wide range of exciting studies. Please email, for more information.

Purpose of MS research studies

The purpose of our research is to learn more about childhood demyelination. In children with demyelination, immune cells (cells that normally fight infection) attack the brain, back of the eyes, or spine. Although the cause of demyelination is not known, it is more common in North American children compared to children in other parts of the world.

We would like to know why demyelination occurs and better understand how demyelination affects children and teenagers. To do this, we need to ask detailed questions about a child’s early life, environment, diet and activities.

Genetic factors (genes are inherited from parent to child and are the instructions that tell cells how to function) may also be important and can be studied by asking questions about the health of the family and by obtaining a sample of DNA, which allows study of specific genes. We also study the immune cells themselves, which can be done through a blood test and by obtaining a mouth swab.

To understand how demyelination affects the brain, some of our studies involve special pictures of the brain, called magnetic resonance images (MRI), and detailed pictures of the eyes, called optical coherence tomography (OCT).

Most parents ask “will my child be okay after this illness?” We carefully assess all children and teenagers, not only at the time of demyelination, but several times in the years that follow. Since the brain is responsible for learning and thinking, some of our studies involve an evaluation of cognitive abilities (such as memory, language and reasoning skills).