Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Receives Multiple Sclerosis Innovation Grant

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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A scientist from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) is the recipient of 1 of only 5 Multiple Sclerosis Innovation grants from German biopharmaceutical company EMD Serono.

Manu Nair, the foundation’s Vice President of Technology Ventures, said that this funding from a new collaborative relationship is a crucial step towards networking in the industry, and affirms the quality and high potential for commercialization of their work. He adds that one of the foundation’s main strategies is to partner with for-profit biotechnology companies as early as possible in order to prepare them for quicker expansion and product development.

Dr. Robert Axtell will lead the utilization of the two-year grant worth $280,000 to study the role of a pair of related inflammatory substances, namely, B cell activation factor (BAFF) and a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL), in diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optic. It will also contribute to an improved differentiation between MS and other autoimmune diseases. This study was chosen out of over 200 proposals from all over the world.

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The foundation’s Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence treats over 2,000 local MS patients. The head of the autoimmune disease research program and current Lou C. Kerr Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research, Judith James, MD, PhD, looks forward to what this research grant’s findings can do for their patients and those suffering from similar diseases.

The four other recipients of this year’s Multiple Sclerosis Innovation awards hail from all over the world: Paris, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.’s own Yale School of Medicine.

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