Research on Progressive MS to Be Funded by International Progressive MS Alliance

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Research on progressive MS

Dr. Timothy Coetzee from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will present an overview of the objectives and achievements of the International Progressive MS Alliance (PMSA), an organization dedicated to facilitating and funding research on progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), a form of MS especially lacking effective therapeutic options.

Coetzee will make his presentation tomorrow, Feb. 20, at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal. The presentation, “Recent Studies Funded by the PMSA,” is part of Session 5, “The Treatment Pipeline: New Experimental Therapies.”

According to the International PMSA, as many as 80 percent of people with MS may develop a type of progressive form of the disease during their lifetime. Unlike relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), the most common type of the disease, there are no effective therapies for progressive MS. This form of MS is divided into two main categories: primary progressive MS (PPMS) and secondary progressive MS (SPMS). While up to 15 percent of patients are diagnosed with PPMS from onset, SPMS is a condition developed by up to 65 percent of patients that were initially diagnosed with RRMS.

There are currently 13 treatments approved across the world and several therapies in different clinical developmental stages for RRMS. However, treatment alternatives for progressive MS have not experienced the same success and, currently there are no approved disease-modifying or effective symptomatic treatments for progressive MS. In light of such a scenario, the PMSA was launched in 2012, comprising 14 MS organizations in 12 countries. It is committed to the funding of research and the engagement of patients, families, advocates, clinicians, and industry for the improvement of the lives of those with progressive MS.

Currently, the organization has several projects in different stages of development, focusing on understanding disease progression, clinical trial design and tools and outcomes, the development and testing of new treatments and symptom management, and rehab. Two of the main goals of PMSA are to turn the global MS movement to focus on progressive MS, and to expand the global commitment to progressive MS research by $30 million over the next six years. Through the Challenge Awards, the Alliance in 2014 funded a total of 22 research projects on progressive MS covering a range of topics including biomarkers of progression, pathology, disease models, and rehabilitation.

PMSA has opened a second term for applications for the Collaborative Network Awards, which will provide four years of funding at 1 million euros a year for teams of at least three investigators from three countries. The projects funded will be announced in late 2016.

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