This is the latest funding initiative by the Society, which is planning to invest a total of $35 million in 2019 to support 340 MS studies ongoing across the globe. The investment is part of the Society’s strategy to accelerate research breakthroughs aimed at finding a cure for MS.
All 64 new research projects receiving funds will try to find answers to basic questions about MS, such as:
- What causes MS?
- Why does it affect certain people and not others?
- How can disease progression be stopped?
- How can MS symptoms and nerve damage be reversed?
The projects include, for instance, the ongoing placebo-controlled, double-blind, Phase 2 clinical trial (NCT03355365) underway at the Tisch MS Research Center of New York to assess the effectiveness of patients’ bone marrow stem cells in blocking the over-activation of the immune system and restoring nerve damage. The trial, which is recruiting patients now, is expected to enroll 50 patients with progressive forms of MS, who will be treated with multiple stem cell infusions.
“There is an urgent need for more effective treatments for MS, particularly for those with more progressive forms of the disease,” Bruce Bebo, PhD, National MS Society executive vice president of research, said about the project. “We believe that the potential of all types of cell therapies must be explored, and we are pleased to be a part of this clinical trial.”
Others receiving funding support include:
- A project aiming to increase energy production in nerve cells to protect them from damage triggered by MS (University of Edinburgh, Scotland);
- A project aiming to assess the impact of bacteria living in the gut on the activity of immune cells in the brains of patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) (University of Milan, Italy);
- A project aiming to determine the prevalence of sleep apnea in MS patients, and to explore whether treating this breathing disorder may help reduce symptoms of fatigue in MS (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, U.S.)
- A project aiming to investigate the contribution of genetic factors for MS progression (University of California San Francisco, U.S.)
“These strategic research investments strengthen the Society’s comprehensive approach to addressing research priorities that will accelerate breakthroughs and build pathways to cures for MS,” Bebo said in a press release.
“Funding research gets us closer to a cure,” added Cyndi Zagieboylo, the Society’s president and CEO. “As our new MS prevalence research shows, there are nearly 1 million people living with MS in the U.S. — that’s twice as many as previous estimates, and it means twice as many people need solutions. If you are among the hundreds of thousands of people who participate in our fundraising events such as Walk MS, then the progress we’re seeing now is thanks to you. Ending MS will take all of us.”
The National MS Society is the largest private organization supporting MS research globally. So far, it is estimated the Society has granted more than $1 billion in research funding.
For a full list of the funded MS projects, click here.