Multiple Sclerosis Research Group
The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research group was formed in 2005 by a collaboration of neurologists and researchers working at Christchurch Hospital and the Universities of Otago and Canterbury.
MS in New Zealand
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system which affects over 4000 people living in New Zealand (NZ) and 2.3 million worldwide. It predominantly affects those of Northern European ancestry and is uncommon in NZ Maori and Pacific peoples. MS is the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults with 3 times higher female predominance. The cause of MS remains elusive; however a substantial body of evidence suggests that it results from a complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors leading to immune-mediated tissue injury. The modest effect of MS on survival, coupled with the chronic and progressive disability that typically accumulates over decades, means that MS has a major impact on the health and quality of life of sufferers and their careers. It also results in significant healthcare and socio-economic costs.
The overall age and sex standardised prevalence of MS in NZ is 73.1 per 100,000 population. The prevalence within the Maori population is substantially lower at 24.2 per 100,000 population. A latitudinal gradient exists with MS prevalence increasing threefold from the North (370S) to the South (480 S) of NZ.