Multiple sclerosis: Summit explores ways to increase awareness in Saudi Arabia

Bayer's medical summit sheds light on the management of multiple sclerosis in the region.
Updated 29 January 2017

Multiple sclerosis: Summit explores ways to increase awareness in Saudi Arabia

Bayer, one of the world’s leading life sciences companies, recently held a medical summit to shed light on the prevalence and management of multiple sclerosis in the region.
Medical experts from Saudi Arabia and the region and senior Bayer representatives took part in the event.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition, which can affect the brain and/or spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, limb movement, sensation or balance.
It is caused when an individual’s own immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues. When this occurs, myelin — the protective insulation surrounding the nerve fibers of the central nervous system (CNS) — is destroyed.
Ultimately, this damage interferes with nerves’ communication between neurons in the CNS.
Medical experts, citing recent studies, said sufficient information was not available in the region about the disease.
They stressed the need to increase awareness among Saudi residents about the disease.
Mohammed Al-Jumah, professor and consultant of neurology and the lead for the Saudi Multiple Sclerosis Registry, said: “Multiple sclerosis is a rising concern in Saudi Arabia. It can be a challenging condition to live with, but new treatments have considerably improved the quality of life of people with the condition.”
He said: “There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments focus on relieving the condition’s symptoms. They work to alter the course of the disease by decreasing the frequency and severity of relapses and the progression of disability.”
He said that successful management of the disease requires early intervention.
Patient education programs should aim at improving their adherence to treatment and enhancing their quality of life, said the professor.
Phil Smits, vice president of Bayer Middle East, said: “In the field of multiple sclerosis, Bayer has grown to develop a strong commitment to patients by continuously investing to support their varied needs. The company has developed a strong support system for multiple sclerosis patients which focuses on driving patient education and training needs. We have also developed autoinjectors to make the drug injection experience comfortable and more importantly, safe for patients.”
Smits added that Bayer’s Betaconnect autoinjector is the first component of an innovative dose delivery system for multiple sclerosis treatment.
Patients may choose to use Betaconnect independently or as part of a complete software-based system designed to track injection history and share important treatment information with health care providers, he added.
Smits said: “At Bayer, we are guided by a clear determination to provide sustainable solutions that place patients at the core.”


Whale shark hot spot in Red Sea offers new insights

An international team of KAUST researchers studied whale shark movement patterns near the Shib Habil reef (Arabic for ‘Rope Reef’), a known whale shark hotspot in the Red Sea on the Saudi Arabian coast.
Updated 18 November 2019

Whale shark hot spot in Red Sea offers new insights

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), whale sharks are considered endangered, which means the species has suffered a population decline of more than 50 percent in the past three generations. The whale shark is only two classifications from being extinct. Improvements and conservation efforts are in place, but there is still a long way to
go to protect these gentle underwater giants.
An international team of researchers, led by marine scientists at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia and including researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the US, has performed an extensive study of whale shark movement and residency using a combination of three scientific techniques: Visual census, acoustic monitoring and satellite telemetry.
Their six-year study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, tracked long-term whale shark movement patterns near the Shib Habil reef (Arabic for “Rope Reef”), a known whale shark hotspot in the Red Sea. The team monitored a total of 84 different sharks over a six-year period, and their results shed light on whale shark behaviors,
which could help to inform conservation efforts.
“The study takes years of passive acoustic monitoring data and combines it with previously published visual census and satellite telemetry data from the same individual sharks. The combined dataset is used to characterize the aggregation’s seasonality, spatial distribution, and patterns of dispersal,” said Dr. Michael Berumen, director of the Red Sea Research Center and professor of marine science at KAUST.

HIGHLIGHT

An international team of researchers, led by marine scientists at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia and including researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the US, has performed an extensive study of whale shark movement and residency.

They found the aggregation to be highly seasonal, with sharks being most abundant in April and May, and that many of the sharks returned to the hot spot regularly year after year. The study also shows roughly equal numbers of male and female sharks using the site, something that could be unique to Shib Habil. These characteristics indicate that this site may serve an important function for the wider Indian Ocean population of this rare and endangered species.
“Using the combined dataset, we can show somewhat conclusively that the aggregation meets all of the criteria of a shark nursery. This is particularly relevant given that Shib Habil is the only site in the Indian Ocean to regularly attract large numbers of juvenile females. Growing late-stage adolescents of both sexes into full adulthood is critical for sustaining a species. Management of critical habitats like Shib Habil and other aggregations will likely be vital for future whale shark conservation,” said KAUST graduate Dr. Jesse Cochran, lead author of the study.
There is a combination of factors contributing to the decrease of whale shark populations world-wide, including targeted fishing, bycatch losses due to fisheries, vessel strikes from boat traffic, marine debris, and pollution.