New lottery game benefits MS research

Researcher Douglas Feinstein explains his research

UIC researcher Douglas Feinstein (center) discusses his work with John Blazek, MS Society, graduate student David Braun and Illinois Lottery superintent Michael Jones. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services.

A new instant Illinois Lottery game, called MS Project, announced Monday at UIC will generate over $1 million this year to support multiple sclerosis research programs in Illinois.

Douglas Feinstein, research professor of anesthesiology, participated in a news conference in the College of Medicine Research Building with Michael Jones, Illinois Lottery superintendent, John Blazek, president of the National MS Society Greater Illinois Chapter, and LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, to discuss the importance of research funding for MS.

Feinstein was awarded an Illinois Lottery research grant to investigate a new therapy that could help restore function in patients with MS. The treatment, which may slow nerve damage and enhance nerve growth and myelin repair, is being conducted in animal models. Initial results have shown promise in reversing the consequences of the disease.

“If you take these mice and let them get ill and you start treating them with this drug, they actually start to recover, really significantly,” said Feinstein.

Multiple sclerosis is an often-disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The symptoms and severity of MS vary greatly among individuals.

Meghan Melone, 23, has lived with MS since she was diagnosed at age 14. She has experienced temporary blindness, pain and paralysis, but said she has a mission to help others with the disease.

“MS is just a curveball that life throws at you, but it doesn’t mean that you stop living,” said Melone, who spoke at Monday’s press conference.

“I feel that I know the reason I was diagnosed. It’s to make our stories be heard, to give back to others who have it worse than I do, and to give those who feel like they’re fighting this battle alone hope. No one is in this fight alone,” she said.

About 20,000 people in Illinois have MS.

Since 2008, the lottery has raised more than $5.7 million from the sale of MS instant tickets. The new MS Project ticket costs $2 and includes potential top instant prizes of up to $20,000. Tickets are available at Illinois Lottery retailer locations across the state.

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