Through its Stop MS Appeal campaign, the United Kingdom’s MS Society seeks to raise £100 million (almost $125 million) within the next decade to advance research and treatments that will stop multiple sclerosis (MS) progression.
Over the next three months, the organization will run an extensive advertising campaign featuring six MS patients and their families.
“The worldwide MS community is coming together to help us achieve our ambitious goal to stop MS,” Nick Moberly, the society’s chief executive, said in a news release.
The MS Society is basing its optimism on recent scientific discoveries, including an animal study reporting that the diabetes medication metformin promotes myelin repair.
Human brains can naturally regenerate myelin, the protective fatty coating around nerves. The repair involves myelin-producing cells, which are derived from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), a type of stem cell. But in MS, and as humans age, myelin’s restorative ability diminishes.
Research recently published in the journal Stem Cell, showed that when aged rats ate only every other day (fasting), OPCs recovered their ability to form myelin-producing cells, leading to enhanced myelin repair. Treatment with metformin was also able to mimic these affects without fasting.
According to Robin Franklin, a professor at the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair, this is “one of the most significant advances in myelin repair therapies ever.”
Based on such discoveries, the Society announced a three-step program to stop MS by preventing immune damage, promoting myelin repair, and protecting nerves from damage. The overarching goal is to be testing MS therapies in advanced clinical trials by 2025.
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