NYU Winthrop Hospital's Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care Center
Bringing cutting-edge research from laboratory to bedside and directing new frontiers of care.
Our Multiple Sclerosis Care Center has received recognition and accreditation from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and its Long Island chapter.
The mission of NYU Winthrop’s Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Care Center is to provide patients with compassionate care and expertise in the rapidly expanding field of MS therapeutics, promote education about the disease, conduct research to develop increasingly effective and safe therapies that will diminish the impact of the condition on patients and families, and enhance the quality of their lives.
Since 1997, NYU Winthrop’s Comprehensive MS Care Center has grown and evolved, and today we manage more than 1,500 patient visits annually. At the forefront of clinical care, our MS Care Center’s treatment and research program has received recognition and accreditation from the National MS Society and its Long Island chapter. The Center’s team is actively involved in national, state and local organizations responsible for influencing the future of MS treatment.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is a chronic inflammatory disease that destroys areas of the protective coating (myelin) that surrounds the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. The process (demyelination) disrupts the normal flow of messages through the brain, spinal cord and nerves that control movement, sensation and other neurological functions, and the cause is unknown.
Symptoms vary, reflecting the parts of the brain or spinal cord damaged by the disease. They may come and go or vary in severity from day to day and hour to hour. The most common early symptoms include weakness, leg dragging, stiffness, a tendency to drop things, a feeling of heaviness, clumsiness or a lack of coordination. Visual symptoms are also common including eyeball pain, blindness, and blurred, foggy, hazy and double vision.
Multiple Sclerosis Evaluation & Diagnosis
MS is evaluated by detailed physical and cognitive examinations – no diagnostic test can substitute for the clinical examination. However, several tests may help confirm the diagnosis, including:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a scan of the brain and spinal cord
- Lumbar puncture (sometimes called a spinal tap) and cerebrospinal fluid analysis
- Evoked potential testing
- Urinary tract tests
- Neuropsychological evaluation
A diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan are established when our experienced clinicians have determined the patient’s history, physical examination and laboratory findings are consistent with MS, and other conditions or MS mimics are ruled out.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Program
Although there is no cure for MS, medications can reduce the number and severity of symptoms, and may slow the progression of the disease. Treatment can also improve quality of life. The level of treatment often depends on how severe symptoms are and how much the disease affects functioning. Treatment may focus on making a relapse shorter or less serious, altering the course of the disease and relieving symptoms.
The Center’s team provides the very best MS treatment while also helping our patients manage their physical and psychosocial symptoms. Specialized nursing care includes training patients and families to inject medications, and helping patients manage the often unpredictable and fluctuating symptoms. Additionally, our team’s relationships with specialists who treat the various symptoms and their ability to expedite referrals, greatly enhances our ability to improve patients’ quality of life.
NYU Winthrop’s Comprehensive MS Care Center is one of only four registered infusion centers on Long Island to be certified for intravenous (IV) administration of TYSABRI® (natalizumab). TYSABRI® is generally recommended for patients who have had inadequate response to, or are unable to tolerate, other approved MS therapies such as COPAXONE®, Betaseron®, Avonex®, Rebif® and Novantrone®.
Bringing Cutting-Edge Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Research from Laboratory to Bedside
Several major research trials are in progress, evaluating the effects of combinations of drugs administered in varying dosages. Through the clinical research conducted at NYU Winthrop, the Comprehensive MS Care Center can offer patients new investigational therapies that would otherwise not be available to them.
With new findings highlighting the urgent need to introduce therapeutic agents as soon as MS has been diagnosed, the Center conducts extensive research that includes participation in several multicenter clinical drug trials, and studying patient outcomes and risk factors for developing MS. In addition, original research is conducted including a study of the safety and tolerability of a double dose of Betaseron®, the first FDA-approved medication that effectively reduced the exacerbation rate of MS by one third.
Current Multiple Sclerosis Research
The CARES–MS II trial is a Phase III study comparing two annual cycles of IV low and high dose Alemtuzumab with interferon beta 1–A injections given three times a week. Alemtuzumab is engineered as a substitute antibody that can mimic the immune system's attack on cancer cells. People with Relapsing/Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) who have relapsed on therapy are potential candidates for this trial. NYU Winthrop Hospital is the only participating study site on Long Island.
The CombiRx trial is a NIH Phase lll evaluation of Avonex® and COPAXONE® as single treatments compared to the combination of both drugs.
The Interferon Dose Escalation and Assessment of Safety (IDEAS) extension trial was a study designed and conducted by Malcolm Gottesman, MD, Director. Patients were monitored for the development of antibodies that protect cells from infection to double dose of Betaseron®.
The original IDEAS trial, designed and conducted solely at NYU Winthrop was a Phase ll study of the safety and tolerability of a double dose of BETASERON®. This was a pilot study to determine if a higher dose of medication is safe, and paved the way for the BEYOND Trial, a large multicenter trial.
For information about participation in a clinical trial at NYU Winthrop’s Comprehensive MS Care Center, call the Hospital’s Clinical Trial Center at 516-663-9582.
New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium
As a participant in the New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium (NYSMSC) since 1997, NYU Winthrop’s Comprehensive MS Care Center is one of 15 facilities collaborating in the study of patient outcomes and risk factors for developing MS. With over 9,000 patients enrolled in this registry, the NYSMSC has amassed one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive epidemiological databases for studying the demographic and clinical aspects of MS. This information has been published and presented at national and international meetings.
Our Team of Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Experts
Chaomei Wu, NP
Program Coordinator, Comprehensive MS Care Center
Anne Gracia, BS, RN
Lucia Jamaluddin, LMSW
Neuroscience Social Worker