Dr. Weinshenker has several interests related to inflammatory demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) such as multiple sclerosis. He uses genetic association and linkage approaches to evaluate candidate genes for their contribution to susceptibility to and to the course of multiple sclerosis. He has evaluated a number of cytokine genes (e.g. TNFA, TNFR1, TGFB1) as well as genes involved in modulating lymphocyte activation vs peripheral immune tolerance (e.g. B7, CTLA4 and CD28). His interests have extended into other "complex" genetic diseases to which some of the candidate genes he has evaluated are pertinent.
Dr. Weinshenker has investigated classification and treatment of fulminant demyelinating diseases of the CNS. He has developed diagnostic criteria and characterized the natural history of neuromyelitis optica (Devic's disease). Along with Dr. Vanda Lennon, he is evaluating the clinical significance of a new antibody biomarker, NMO-IgG, that is highly specific and moderately sensitive for neuromyelitis optica and for other restricted types of inflammatory demyelination including longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis and recurrent optic neuritis. He has conducted a randomized, sham-controlled trial of plasma exchange in fulminant demyelinating disease and showed that it can salvage neurological function in patients who have severe deficits refractory to corticosteroid therapy.
He has characterized the natural history of multiple sclerosis in a series of papers based on an evaluation of a large population- and clinic-based series in London, Ontario. This work has facilitated the design and interpretation of clinical trials to evaluate new treatments for MS.