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Current Funded Research > Texas

Han Cheng, PhD
Eye Institute
University of Houston
Houston, TX
NMSS Chapter: Lone Star
Pilot Research Award: $44,000; 05/01/06-4/30/08

“Structural and functional assessment of optic nerve damage in MS patients” Developing a test for evaluating nerve fiber damage in the optic nerve as an indicator of MS progression.

Although the hallmark of multiple sclerosis is damage to nerve-insulating myelin, the damage to nerve fibers themselves is largely responsible for the progression of disease. Sensitive measures are needed to help track disease progression before it manifests in worsening symptoms.

Han Cheng, PhD, is seeking to develop a method of monitoring nerve fiber damage in the optic nerve. People with MS frequently develop inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis), which can lead to blurring, vision loss and painful eye movements. Ultimately, injury may occur to nerve cells in the retina (light sensitive area at the back of the eye). Observing early changes in the retina may allow researchers to predict other types of disability in people with MS. Dr. Cheng is enrolling 40 people with MS, and is evaluating optic nerve disease in these subjects using mfVEP (multifocal visual evoked potentials), a new electrophysiologic test.

This study may help to develop a method of tracking nerve fiber damage early in MS, and evaluating treatments for this damage.