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.
The ‘Stop MS Appeal’ ad campaign includes Donna Nahal, 34, from Birmingham, who was diagnosed with relapsing MS as a college student.
“I wanted to get involved with Stop MS to help people understand how the condition can affect lives,” Nahal said. “When you’re told you have MS it’s very easy to give up, but we are people fighting a battle every day. And we have to continue to fight. Right now I feel the future is filled with hope, and together we can stop MS.”
Anna Williams, a professor of regenerative neurology at the International Progressive MS Alliance, said Stop MS Appeal will bring immense hope to millions globally, but with that comes added pressure. “For a national charity and professionals like myself to come out and say we believe it can be stopped, we must be able to deliver on that promise,” Williams said.
A TV advertisement also features MS patients singing a version of “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac; the ad will also be appear in newspapers, billboards and online.
According to the MS Society, more than 100,000 people have MS in the U.K.. For more information on the society, its programs and events, or to make a donation, please visit this site.