Dr. Maria Wendebourg on the phone in front of a computer with an image of a brain scan


Our fields of research

In addition to our clinical research fields in the context of drug and cohort studies and their scientific evaluation, there are numerous other research groups working on the pathomechanisms, better assessment of the course and therapy of MS.

The MS Center is closely linked to the Research Center for Clinical Neuroimmunology and Neuroscience. The RC2NB is based on a non-profit foundation and was founded in 2019 by the University Hospital Basel together with the University of Basel. Interdisciplinary teams from the various departments of the University Hospital and the departments of the University work closely together at the RC2NB to achieve rapid translation of research results into advances in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with MS.

With the MS Center and the SMSC, which is coordinated from here, with its academic partner institutions, the local, national and international networks and through collaboration with industry, the connection between the MS Center and the RC2NB offers optimal conditions for patient-oriented research.

More information can be found here.

(Head: Dr. Marcus D'Souza, Prof. Ludwig Kappos)

"Neurostatus-EDSS", a standardized method developed at the MS Center for the quantitative assessment of impairment and disability in MS, has been the gold standard for international MS studies, academic cohort studies and clinical practice for years. More than 10,000 investigators have been trained and certified worldwide. Since 2011, the electronic recording and automated consistency check of the Neurostatus-EDSS has been successively introduced and has already been used in several international MS studies.

To the Neurostatus UHB page

Our clinical neuroimmunology research is mainly concerned with the identification of immunological biomarkers in MS and the role of B cells and antibodies in the pathogenesis of MS.

Among other things, we are currently working on isolating autoantigen-specific B cells from the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of patients with autoimmune diseases (MS and myasthenia) and virus-specific B cells (anti-SARS-CoV2 and anti-influenza) from the blood of vaccinated or ill patients using B cell receptor-mediated antigen uptake. These studies should provide information on the extent to which autoimmune and antiviral B cell responses differ. The relevance of antigen uptake by B cells in tissue is being investigated in various animal models using transgenic mice. State-of-the-art examination methods such as 2-photon microscopy and transcriptome analysis of single cells are used for this purpose.

More information can be found here.

Our research on translational biomarkers and the SMSC focuses on the identification and validation of various clinically relevant biomarkers in CSF and blood samples. For this purpose, a large biobank and the SMSC with CSF and blood samples are coordinated. The focus is on the development of new diagnostic procedures to better characterize and predict the course of disease in multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.

We are developing new measurement methods for the detection of biomarkers in blood samples. Using highly sensitive methods, the neurofilament light chain (NfL) has been established as the first meaningful blood marker for disease activity and neuroaxonal damage in MS with implications for prognosis and therapy management. In order to gain experience with this promising biomarker in clinical practice, we offer the determination of NfL in serum samples.

In collaboration with academic partners and industry, samples from large international therapy studies and patient cohorts are continuously analyzed in our laboratory; at the same time, we develop test systems for other pathoanatomically relevant analytes. In numerous studies, we have shown in collaboration with other research groups that NfL measurements play an important role in the monitoring and prognosis definition of other neurological diseases such as ALS, dementia (incl. MCI) and stroke.

More information can be found here.

(Working group PD Dr. Matthias Mehling)

The migration of immune cells plays a central role in the protective immune defense, but also in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

The aim of our research is to characterize the migration behaviour of lymphocytes at the single cell level in patients with MS in comparison with healthy controls. To overcome the limitations of classical immunological methods, we have developed microfluidic chips that allow us to characterize the migration behavior of immune cells at the single cell level and correlate it with clinical parameters. In addition, this technique allows us to address fundamental questions of cell migration, such as how immune cells orient themselves in gradients of chemokines.

More information can be found here.

(Head Prof. Cristina Granziera)

Imaging of the brain and spinal cord plays an important role in neurology, as it contributes to the understanding of the pathophysiology of neurological diseases, but also to clinical diagnosis, planning and long-term monitoring of treatment.

'Translational Imaging in Neurology (ThINk) Basel' is a group of researchers in neurology who apply, optimize and integrate magnetic resonance imaging methods in combination with clinical, neurophysiological and laboratory measurements. ThINk Basel's research focuses on the identification of biomarkers of disease progression and response to therapy, the development of new computer models of MS disease development, and the investigation of mechanisms of structural damage and regeneration in the central nervous system of affected individuals.

In addition, we investigate the pathophysiology and plasticity of the brain in stroke, headache/migraine and neuro-HIV disease. We also investigate quantitative biomarkers for spinal cord imaging in motor neuron disease, spinal muscular atrophy and post-polio syndrome. To this end, we develop and optimize digital health solutions and reliable, automated tools for image processing.

ThINk Basel is affiliated with the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Basel, the Neurology and MS Center of the University Hospital Basel and the Research Center for Clinical Neuroimmunology and Neuroscience Basel (RC2NB).

You can find more information here.

(Head Prof. Anne-Katrin Pröbstel)

Increasing evidence points to a relevant role of specific immune cells, the B cells, in the development of multiple sclerosis. In addition, in recent years, changes in the intestinal bacteria in patients with multiple sclerosis have been identified as an important environmental factor in the development of the disease.

The aim of our research is to investigate the role of regulatory (benign) and inflammatory (malignant) B cells in multiple sclerosis and MOG antibody-associated disease using innovative high-throughput sequencing and multi-omics approaches at the single cell level. We are particularly interested in the interaction of B cells with intestinal bacteria. We work synergistically with liquid biopsies from the gut, blood, cerebrospinal fluid, post-mortem brain tissue from patients and experimental mouse models including germ-free mice. Our international, interdisciplinary team of neurologists, immunologists and computer scientists works in close collaboration with colleagues in microbiology, immunology and gastroenterology as well as (inter)national collaboration partners.

In addition, we are investigating the role of B cells in other inflammatory diseases of the nervous system such as autoimmune encephalitis (collaboration with the GENERATE network), neurolupus (collaboration with the Swiss Lupus Cohort Study) and malignant brain tumors (glioblastomas) with the aim of deciphering the causes of disease in order to create the basis for the development of targeted immunotherapies.

Our research group is affiliated with the Neurology and MS Center of the University Hospital Basel as well as the Departments of Biomedicine and Clinical Research and the Research Center for Clinical Neuroimmunology and Neuroscience Basel (RC2NB) of the University of Basel.

More information can be found here.

Medical training and continuing education

Training events

As part of our public training events, topics from neurology and neurosurgery as well as from neurological border areas are presented. Lectures in the field of multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology are also held here on a regular basis.

You can find the current program here.

Dissertations and medical training

It is possible to carry out dissertations in the field of multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology. The respective research group leaders can be contacted for topics.

As part of the specialist training in neurology, we offer prospective specialists the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in the field of multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology both clinically and scientifically.

Open positions can be found here.

Please send unsolicited applications by e-mail to Prof. Fischer's office(cristina.furfaro@usb.ch).


Drug studies

By organizing and conducting national and international drug trials, the MS Center has played a leading role in the development of almost all new MS drugs introduced in the last 25 years.

The introduction of several, sometimes highly effective drugs with different modes of action has significantly improved treatment options for MS sufferers.

This study compares the effects - good and bad - of fenebrutinib versus ocrelizumab (Ocrevus®) in patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Each participant has a 50% chance of receiving either fenebrutinib (and an ocrelizumab-matching placebo) or ocrelizumab (and a fenebrutinib-matching placebo); participants are randomly divided into two groups (like flipping a coin). Fenebrutinib is an experimental (investigational) drug, which means that it is not yet approved by the health authorities for the treatment of PPMS. Ocrevus® is approved for the treatment of PPMS. The study will last approximately 7 years and will involve a total of 946 people in several countries.

Further information can be found here

If you are interested, please contact basel.msresearch@usb.ch or call +41 61 556 53 26.

Observational studies

Observational studies can provide very important information on the efficacy, tolerability and side effects of MS drugs in their long-term use in patients with different disease progression and risk profiles. In addition, these studies offer the opportunity to examine biomarkers (e.g. blood, MRI) for the assessment of disease activity and prognosis.

By participating in these studies, our patients contribute significantly to a better understanding of the clinical picture of MS in relation to the long-term course of the disease and to optimizing therapy.

As part of the University Hospital Basel, our MS Center thus offers patient care that is based on the latest research findings and opens up access to new therapeutic and diagnostic options.

If you are interested in participating in one of our observational studies listed below, please contact your attending physician at the MS Center or the study coordinator at the MS Center, Ms. Lacalamita, who can be reached by telephone Monday to Thursday from 9.00-16.00 on +41 61 556 53 26 or by e-mail at basel.msresearch@usb.ch

The MS Center played a leading role in setting up the SMSC and acts as the coordinating center (PI Prof. Jens Kuhle). In the SMSC, over 1600 patients in 8 participating centers are regularly examined in a prospective and standardized clinical and imaging manner.

This provides us with information on medications and their efficacy and tolerability in the long term and with long-term use. Dangers of new drugs can be recognized earlier and risk factors identified. The data obtained is also available for joint evaluations at national and international level.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that can lead to increasing physical and mental impairment over time by causing inflammation or slow damage to nerve cells in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

These inflammations can now be treated effectively with medication. Regular neurological visits and examinations are necessary in order to record the course of the disease as accurately as possible and to adapt the treatment where necessary. These are supplemented by imaging (usually MRI (= magnetic resonance imaging)) and laboratory examinations (blood tests).

Such examinations usually take place every six months or annually. However, we believe that we do not collect a lot of information about the course of the disease between these visits, which would make it easier to adapt treatment accordingly and at an early stage. Digital biomarkers could mean a significant improvement here.

The aim of our study is to find so-called digital biomarkers that can be used to monitor the progression or assess the prognosis of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The dreaMS app used for this study is an application (software application) that can be installed on a smartphone.

The study participants will perform exercises under the guidance of this app over a period of 2 years, which should allow conclusions to be drawn about physical functions (e.g. walking ability).

Further information can be found here

If you are interested, please contact dreams@usb.ch or call +41 61 328 45 63.