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The Role of Moderate Alcohol Consumption in Promoting Improved Disease Outcome in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). An Investigation Involving Transformation Training to Persons from Previously Disadvantaged Groups in South Africa

by | Oct 26, 2020 | Wine and health

Project Number

Project title
The role of moderate alcohol consumption in promoting improved disease outcome in multiple sclerosis (MS). An investigation involving transformation training to persons from previously disadvantaged groups in South Africa.

Project leader
van Rensburg, S J

Stellenbosch University. Division of Chemical Pathology

Team members
Erasmus, R T
Kemp, M
Herbert, E
Motshwari, D
Hattingh, C
Moremi, K
Opperman, P
Erasmus, E
Luckhoff, H

Objectives and Rationale
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, which affects the myelin sheaths of the nerve axons which may lead to disability. The objectives of this project were to train previously disadvantaged students to employ various research methods to investigate the reasons for MS disability progression and the prevention thereof.

Patients and matching controls were assessed for diet and lifestyle factors, including alcohol intake, using a Questionnaire. Disability measured using an objective tool, the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), was correlated with biochemistry and genetic tests, ultrasound of the neck blood vessels and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the brain. Students were trained in these methods for capacity building.

Key Results
Lower EDSS (reduced disability) was associated with improved vascular health (Intima Media Thickness assessed by Ultrasound), moderate alcohol intake and intake of fruits and vegetables. Worse disability was associated with smoking. A new MRI method was developed to assess active MS lesions in the brain. Students achieved their training goals.

Key Conclusion of Discussion
The research project has provided novel insights into the association of disability in MS with lifestyle factors such as diet, alcohol intake, biochemistry and genetics. Ultrasound and MRI techniques have provided excellent results that can be published in accredited journals and resulted in students graduating.

Take Home message for Industry
The research project funded by Winetech has provided answers to the Research Questions investigated. Patients have benefitted from the results. The research findings from this project showed that moderate alcohol consumption under the right circumstances is not detrimental to MS patients. Some of the results may be patented. Students were successfully trained.


Additional articles

Kemp MC, Johannes C, van Rensburg SJ, Kidd M, Isaacs F, Kotze MJ, Engel-Hills P. Disability in multiple sclerosis is associated with vascular factors: An ultrasound study. J Med Imaging Radiat Sci. 2023 Jun;54(2):247-256. doi: 10.1016/j.jmir.2022.11.017. Epub 2022 Dec 15.

Johannes C, Moremi KE, Kemp MC, Whati L, Engel-Hills P, Kidd M, van Toorn R, Jaftha M, van Rensburg SJ, Kotze MJ. Pathology-supported genetic testing presents opportunities for improved disability outcomes in multiple sclerosis. Personalized Medicine 2023. In Press.   

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