The National Multiple Sclerosis Society announced that is investing more than $10.5 million to support an anticipated 42 new research projects into multiple sclerosis (MS), part of its commitment to scientific efforts aimed at stopping MS, restoring lost function to patients, and, ultimately, ending the disease forever.
The dedicated funding is part of a projected society investment of $50 million in 2016 alone, supporting more than 380 studies worldwide.
The newly awarded projects include five studies investigating aspects related to the repair of the nerve-insulating cover (myelin) that is damaged in MS. Others include a study, being carried out at Ohio State University, to explore whether increased levels of physical activity can help reverse cognitive problems; a study at Mt. Sinai, in New York, testing a dietary approach to treat the disease; and two policy studies looking at factors driving the escalating costs of medications to treat MS.
The National MS Society continues to advance promising new therapies by collaborating with researchers to provide the financial support needed to move work toward commercial development. Among these partnerships is a project underway at University College London (UCL) to develop treatments to protect the nervous system from MS-related injury. With society support through its Fast Forward program, UCL researchers have conducted the toxicity studies necessary to bring a new spasticity-relieving molecule, called VSN16R, into clinical testing; the molecule is now being evaluated in a proof-of-concept Phase 2 trial (NCT02542787) to determine if it can improve MS-related spasticity.
“These new research investments are intended to answer questions that will accelerate breakthroughs that change the world for people with MS,” Bruce Bebo, PhD, executive vice president for research with the National MS Society, said in a society news release.
Every year, hundreds of research proposals are evaluated and those that appear to offer the most promise selected. In this process, more than 130 renowned researchers worldwide volunteer their time to assess proposals for the MS Society, assuring that funding is dedicated to cutting-edge and potentially life-changing studies.
Among the research targeted are studies into potential therapies, measurements of disease activity, a better understanding of how the immune system acts to trigger the disease, and into healthcare issues to drive advocacy efforts for policies that promote quality care for people living with MS.
Studies related to restoring what has been lost in MS focus on repairing nerves and their protective myelin coating. Restoring lost physical abilities also means investing into research into lifestyle and wellness strategies.
Research into ending MS forever includes efforts to identify an MS-related gene, and those aimed at better understanding the environmental factors that influence whether a person gets MS, as well as identifying possible infectious triggers for the disease.
Currently, MS therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) are known to positively impact the underlying disease course. “However, none of these can stop progression or reverse the damage to restore function. National MS Society-funded research paved the way for existing therapies — none of which existed just several decades ago — and continues to be a driving force of MS research,” the MS Society reported in its release.
More information about the newly funded research projects can be found by clicking on this link.