iMSpire (International MS Partnership In Research) is a formally constituted research partnership between the University of West Paris, Nanterre, La Defense, the University of Bournemouth and University of Bristol as well as Southmead and Poole hospitals.Interest in collaboration arose in 2012 from French researchers seeking to translate and test a unique approach to treat debilitating fatigue in MS (Multiple Sclerosis), designed by University of Bournemouth researchers and tested in Bristol, Southampton and Poole.
Fatigue affects around 90% of people with MS and is one of the main symptoms preventing people with MS from remaining in employment. There is presently no effective medical treatment for MS fatigue.
Researchers at the University of Bournemouth designed a series of group training sessions to enable people with MS to manage their fatigue and to help them understand the causes and behavioural aspects of fatigue and its management.
The MS Society funded research to evaluate the efficacy of this programme (now called FACETS) carried out at three UK clinical centres in Poole Hospital and University hospitals in Bristol and Southampton, this resulted in three major publications.
In Bristol FACETS is now included as part of the multi-disciplinary MS management team at The Brain Centre, Southmead Hospital and between three and five group sessions supporting up to ten patients are funded and facilitated by the MS Research Treatment and Education each year.
Similarly FACETS is being rolled out as part of treatment at a number of UK sites and Angela Davies-Smith who was part of the initial research team in Bristol is now involved in training in FACETS delivery. Feedback from participants is very positive and especially appreciated is the group setting that enables discussion and exchanges of views between patients.
A 2 Day Conference in Bristol
The IMSPIRE group is now formally recognised by Bristol, Bournemouth and Paris West Universities as an official international collaboration. Symptoms in MS (including fatigue) are very poorly understood and effective treatment or a real understanding of how brain function is affected by fatigue is lacking. Combining clinical studies in CRICBristol (see footnote), University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol, The Brain Centre, Southmead Hospital, the University of Bournemouth and the University of Paris West teams brings together a very strong group of committed researchers and the capability to continue to develop and provide a range of better treatments for MS symptoms.
To date progress in research has been sustained by meetings held in Paris but the emphasis on new research using MR Imaging (MRI) generated within the group has shifted more towards specialist resources and expertise in Bristol and sites across the South West UK. For the past two years the iMSpire conference has been hosted in Paris and therefore the facilities available in Bristol have not been visited by many of the French and non Bristolian attendees. To remedy this MS Research Treatment & Education chose to sponsor a conference in Bristol which was held on 20th and 21st of June 2016 at the CRICBristol and was hosted by MS Research and Dr Jade Thai.
The conference consisted of two days of intense presentation amongst some of the most knowledgeable international minds and discussion followed by e-mail and telephone communication to set up appropriate strategies to take the resulting research proposals forward in both the UK and France.
Footnote. CRICBristol: Bristol’s Clinical Research and Imaging Centre, is a joint venture between the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol.
This state-of-the-art research and imaging center opened in February 2011. As a result of this unique collaboration between the University and the NHS people in Bristol and the South West are benefiting from the latest, high-quality, cutting-edge research being conducted locally. CRIC facilities include a Siemens 3Tesla Magneton Skyra MRI scanner, (funded by the Wolfson Foundation), a two-room sleep laboratory and four clinical investigation suites alongside a laboratory, meeting rooms, and access to high performance computing facilities. With a direct link to St Michael´s maternity hospital, the facility has been purpose built and designed for studies in babies and children as well as disabled and nondisabled adults.