The first private Research and Treatment Unit for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in Andalusia and the fourth private in Spain, was launched in October at the Vithas Nisa Sevilla Hospital. A project consolidated thanks to the agreement reached between the Vithas Nisa Foundation and the Foundation for the Development of Research and Assistance in Chronic Disabling Neurological and Related Diseases (DINAC).The Vithas Nisa Sevilla Hospital belongs to the Vithas health group, which has 19 hospitals and 29 medical centres in Spain.
The MS Unit, led by Dr Guillermo Izquierdo Ayuso, one of the most prominent international specialists in the field of Multiple Sclerosis, will focus on research, training and assistance to patients with this disease, with more than 45,000 Spaniards being diagnosed, of whom 9,000 are Andalusians.
“To promote research and develop the same with internationally recognised professionals is the primary objective of the Vithas Nisa Foundation. Therefore, it is a great pleasure to work together with Dr Izquierdo and his DINAC Foundation on this project as it is another step in the direction of becoming a reference point in Multiple Sclerosis research", explains Mar Alvarez, managing director of the Vithas Nisa Foundation.
Manuel Rodriguez, managing director of the Vithas Nisa Sevilla Hospital, says that “having unit for research and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis within the hospital will help many people improve their quality of life, which in the end is the goal that all of us who dedicate our lives to medicine pursue”.
The main line of work of the MS Unit is Research. And although the unit opens its doors officially today, it has been working for several months in clinical trials with drugs for different evolutionary forms in research phases II, III and IV, and epidemiological studies, including descriptive and analytical epidemiology in relation to probable triggers of the disease including genetic studies. Symptomatic treatments, including sphincter disorders, spasticity and fatigue are also key objectives of our research.
Another line of research lies in “the study of cerebrospinal fluid, which is twofold since we can do studies of oligoclonal bands in many hospitals in Andalusia, the rest of Spain and Latin America". According to the journal Neurología, “the presence of intrathecal secretion of oligoclonal bands of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in cerebrospinal fluid continues to be the most useful immunological alteration for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS)”.
But new techniques such as the study of neurofilaments are also used for diagnosis, prognosis and response to treatment. The concentration of this protein in the cerebrospinal fluid can predict the level of MS activity.
The MS Unit of Vithas Nisa Sevilla Hospital will also use the OCT (a test that allows the study of the retina “live”) for the evolutionary diagnosis of the disease and analyse the responses to treatments.
Another area of the Unit is Neurophysiotherapy, with work projects related to accidental falls, pelvic floor and, as a star project which is already running, the study to analyse gait deterioration in patients with MS, with the digital aisle of 8 meters and a study with digital templates.
“Neuropsychological studies are allowing us to observe a different pattern in progressive primary forms of MS which, for treatment reasons, are now very important, since for the first time we have a drug to treat this stage of the disease.” For this reason, the Department of Neuropsychology of this Unit includes projects, such as general studies, treatments and especially profiles and evolutionary forms. “Having patients profiled from a neuropsychological point of view is very important. Neuropsychology will also serve us for prognosis of MS, along with other investigations such as OCT for macular atrophy, as well as the application of new technologies, such as MRI for atrophy.”
Another of the advances in the diagnosis and treatment of MS is working with databases of patients from several countries, which will allow, by cross-referencing the data, to establish personalised therapies.
Dr Izquierdo's team has been the driving force in an international project with a database of more than 40,000 patients diagnosed with MS from around the world, of whom his team contributed about 2,000.
“With the application of certain artificial intelligence parameters, based on big data, and the knowledge of neurologists, personalised treatments can be established based on disease behaviour patterns”, according to the specialist from Vithas Nisa Seville Hospital. This extensive database is also allowing the discovery of genetic markers predisposing to MS.
There is no progress without training, and for that reason, this Unit is developing collaborative projects with other Spanish hospitals for the training on MS of Resident Physicians in Neurology. Masterclass has also been taught for Latin American specialists and work will continue in this field.
But the training includes not only medical staff but also patient associations to share experiences with MS and convey the advances that are being made in the diagnosis and treatment of this immunological and degenerative disease.
About the Vithas Nisa Foundation
The Vithas Nisa Foundation was created in 2003 for the following founding purposes: the development, promotion, management and support of research, training and teaching in the field of medicine, and the relation between health sciences and social, health and medical care.
Vithas Nisa Foundation is actively committed to promoting research through its Centralised Research Unit, responsible for supporting the communication and adherence among our specialists, establishing itself, on the one hand, as a reference for conducting any Research Project in Vithas Hospitals and on the other, as a support, advisory and decision-making body for the professionals involved. We also collaborate on Clinical Trials from other hospitals by conducting tests on services provided at Vithas hospitals.
The Foundation is also essential in the field of education through standardised training, whereby more than 600 students per year complete their training throughout our hospitals thanks to collaboration agreements with more than 40 entities. On the other hand, open and multidisciplinary training is encouraged through the creation and launch of programs and courses that seek to enhance, exploit and apply the practical side of learning, counting on the collaboration of outstanding academic partners such as CEU-Cardenal Herrera University.
The need to offer answers to specific questions that arise within the scientific and technical field, and to bring knowledge on certain subjects, both to health professionals and patients and their family members, is another of the Foundation's signatures, encouraging numerous health workshops and classes. It also actively contributes to the development of social and cultural activities, collaborating with projects of various kinds to promote collective improvements, such as reintegration into work, volunteering and international cooperation.
The Vithas Nisa Foundation is part of the Spanish Association of Foundations.
The Vithas Promise: high quality accredited healthcare, personal service and long term commitment
Vithas is the first healthcare operator with 100 por ciento Spanish capital. Its strategic commitment is defined by supporting the healthcare with the standards of quality accreditation of the highest international prestige, the Joint Commission International. Only 14 prestigious hospitals in Spain have such accreditation and recognition, and two of them are part of Vithas, in Madrid and Malaga. Each year Vithas cares for more than 5.000.000 patients in its 19 hospitals and 29 medical centres called Vithas Salud. The 48 centres are distributed throughout the country and include hospitals in Alicante, Almeria, Benalmadena, Castellon, Granada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lleida, Madrid, Malaga, Sevilla, Tenerife, Vigo, Valencia and Vitoria- Gasteiz. The 29 Vithas Salud centres are located in Alicante, Almuñecar, Elche, El Ejido, Fuengirola, Granada, La Estrada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lleida, Madrid, Malaga, Marin, Nerja, Pontevedra, Rincon de la Victoria, Sanxenxo, Sevilla, Torre del Mar, Torremolinos, Vilagarcia, and Vitoria-Gasteiz. Vithas also counts upon more than 300 extraction points spread throughout Spain thanks to its network of Vithas Lab laboratories. Its own central purchasing office, PlazaSalud24, as a leader in the sector, provides service to 39 hospitals, 35 medical centres and 20 dental clinics.
Vithas has a strategic agreement with a hospital leader in the Balearic Islands, the Juaneda Healthcare Network, which has 5 hospitals and a wide network of medical centres throughout the region.
Vithas' commitment to accredited quality healthcare and personalised service goes hand in hand with the firm support and long-term vision of Vithas' shareholders: Goodgrower, who control 80 por ciento of the capital, and the' La Caixa' group, with the remaining 20 por ciento. With a growth model based on geographical diversification and sustainability, Vithas plans to continue consolidating its national presence both by opening new centres and through acquisitions and strategic agreements.