Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology

Sean J. Pittock, M.D. in the Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic focusing on multiple sclerosis and autoimmune neurology research.

The Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic is on the forefront of research for multiple sclerosis (MS) and autoimmune neurological disorders. This includes diagnosing MS using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarkers and testing that distinguishes demyelinating disease from MS. Neurologists also evaluate people with progressive MS who have limited MRI disease burden, to determine why they have progression. Then, we are able to conduct an urgent evaluation for those with acute and progressive myelopathies of uncertain etiology to determine the cause and initiate treatment.

Neurologists use the latest technology to identify new antibody biomarkers of autoimmune diseases and offer many clinical trials for those with autoimmune diseases.

Multiple sclerosis

The MS research community at Mayo Clinic is committed to repairing and restoring neurological function in patients using imaging, regenerative medicine, stem cell biology, individualized medicine, drug discovery, pathology, genetics, engineering and computational biology. MS research initiatives include a broad spectrum of disciplines, ranging from neuroscience, neurology, neuropathology and neurosurgery to bioengineering, radiology and immunology. Our vision also emphasizes the unique nature of the disease in each patient. Neurologists conduct clinical research, laboratory studies and clinical trials to study causes, genetics and disease progression and develop potential new treatments for MS and related conditions.

Autoimmune neurology

Autoimmune neurology is a rapidly evolving subspecialty driven by the discovery that the immune system can target virtually any structure within the central or peripheral nervous system. These conditions manifest as disorders previously considered independent and unrelated — some well-known, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), and others so rare that only a handful of known cases exist in the world.

This subspecialty also includes central nervous system inflammatory demyelinating diseases, neuroinfectious diseases and neuromyelitis optica (NMO). This continuous loop of discovery and application increases our ability to treat patients with a variety of autoimmune and demyelinating diseases, which are increasingly recognized as treatable and reversible.

Collaborative research

Researchers in the Department of Neurology work alongside Mayo Clinic's Center for Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology for research and patient care in autoimmune neurological disorders. Through collaboration, researchers have made groundbreaking progress on multiple sclerosis (MS), neuromyelitis optica, autoimmune encephalitis and other neurological conditions.

Faculty members collaborating on basic and clinical research related to multiple sclerosis and autoimmune neurology include: