funding

Website Shows How Much Money Your Doctor Gets from Big Pharma

Biogen, a pharmaceutical company that markets half a dozen MS therapies, is accused of paying doctors to prescribe its medications. A former Biogen employee claimed that the company paid fake consulting and speaking fees to doctors who prescribed Avonex (interferon beta-1a) and Tysabri (natalizumab) in 2009 and 2010. The company…

National MS Society to Award $433,800 to Support 10 Pilot Research Projects

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will award $433,800 to 10 high-risk pilot studies that will quickly evaluate new strategies and interventions and enhance knowledge about multiple sclerosis (MS). According to a press release, the award winners will address different aspects of the disease, including potential treatments for fatigue and loneliness, to improve patients' walking abilities, and a strategy to change gut bacteria effects in MS. The year-long Pilot Research Grant program is a way to support early-stage research projects to quickly test their effectiveness. The MS Society also said that additional projects will be awarded this year. Results of a recent survey of approximately 300 pilot grant recipients revealed the program successfully promotes new ideas and brings new researchers to the MS field. About 90 percent of the respondents agreed that the financial support was very important for their research project. In 85 percent of cases, the grant supported new ideas, and in 56 percent it allowed support for additional grants. These pilot grants allow researchers to obtain preliminary data so they can decide to apply for additional funding, if the project looks  promising, or to put the idea to rest.

University of Illinois Researchers Win $300,000 Falk Award to Improve MS Drug Delivery

A research team at the University of Illinois College of Medicine has received $300,000 from the Falk Medical Research Trust to develop a novel drug delivery method that could improve the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis. Established in 1979, the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust - Catalyst Award is granted every year to a dozen U.S. research groups. It provides one year of funding to high-risk, high-reward projects to complete preliminary studies. Catalyst Program winners who achieve their goals can then enroll in the Falk Transformational Awards Program, which offers $1 million for two years to further support the projects. The UIC team, led by Ernesto Bongarzone and Maria Givogri, hope to transform naturally occurring small vesicles released by several cell types into drug targeted delivery vehicles. Cells commonly use these vesicles to communicate with each other. They pack inside the vesicles with many cell products, like proteins and small RNA molecules, then release them into the bloodstream and cerebrospinal fluid. These vesicles can travel to distant places in the body until they find and fuse with their target cell, dumping their cargo. However, the content of vesicles may not always be good, as they have been shown to play a role in spreading cancer, said fellow anatomy and cell biology professor Givogri. "There is much more to learn about how they function in this way,” she added. The team will use the Catalyst Award to test different methods of vesicles production from mesenchymal stem cells. They will also engineer these vesicles to specifically target oligodendrocytes in the brain and spinal cord. Oligodendrocytes are cells that specialize in producing the nerve cell’s protective myelin layer. The efficacy and safety of this new delivery method will be tested in mice. After completing these preliminary studies, the team expects to apply for further funding. The UIC researchers plan to use the vesicles to transport and deliver small RNA molecules, called microRNAs, that can boost myelin production.

Five Research Projects Totaling $38 Million to Compare Effectiveness of MS Treatment Strategies

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has awarded $38 million in grants for five projects that compare the effectiveness of different multiple sclerosis treatment strategies. A key aim of the research is to improve knowledge about the therapies to help doctors and patients choose the healthcare option that best meets patients’ needs. The…

Kezar Life Sciences Raises $50M to Advance Clinical Testing of Potential MS Treatment

Kezar Life Sciences announced that it is planning to move ahead with clinical testing of KZR-616, a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases and inflammatory disorders. The company recently concluded a Phase 1 safety study of the treatment, and raised $50 million in investment funding to support its development. KZR-616 is a first-in-class selective immunoproteasome inhibitor, meaning it works by blocking abnormal protein degradation. Cells eliminate proteins by sending them to a specialized cell compartment known as the proteasome. In immune cells, the proteasome is called immunoproteasome, and it regulates several selective inhibitors and participates in the regulation of the immune response associated with inflammatory diseases such as MS, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and lupus. "We are pleased with the results of our healthy volunteer study, and grateful for the support of such an excellent group of investors to finance our upcoming clinical trials," John Fowler, Kezar Life Sciences’ CEO, said in a news release. "The strong demand for this financing reflects growing excitement for the potential of immunoproteasome inhibition in treating autoimmune disorders and recognizes the clear leadership position enjoyed by Kezar." The Phase 1 trial enrolled 82 healthy subjects, who were assigned to receive either KZR-616 or placebo. In total, 61 volunteers were given KZR-616 as single or multiple doses at varying dose levels to identify the optimal dose for both tolerability and proteasome inhibition. Results will be presented at the American College of Rheumatology's Annual Meeting to be held in San Diego in November. "These initial clinical trial results demonstrate that KZR-616 is achieving the desired levels of immunoproteasome inhibition that correlate with anti-inflammatory activity seen in laboratory models,” said Christopher Kirk, PhD, company president and CSO. “By selectively targeting the immunoproteasome, we believe we can avoid the toxicities associated with dual proteasome inhibitors like Velcade and Kyprolis." The Series B financing round was led by Cormorant Asset Management and Morningside Venture and raised $50 million to support the development of KZR-616. Kezar announced it has the support of new investors, including Cowen Healthcare Investments, Pappas Ventures, Qiming Venture Partners, and Bay City Capital. "Cormorant is pleased to support Kezar as it enters an exciting series of patient studies, the first ever with a selective immunoproteasome inhibitor," said Bihua Chen, founder of Cormorant Asset Management. "While much work remains, I believe KZR-616 has the potential to be a transformative treatment in autoimmunity."

Join Me and Advocate for MS

One of my sisters called to let me know that CNN was doing live coverage of the Women’s March that was taking place in all 50 U.S. states, as well as many other countries. While we talked, one of the speakers came on and observed that the issues facing…

9 Research Teams at Virginia Universities Awarded Grants into Studies of Brain

Nine research teams at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech will be awarded grants totaling $550,000 for studies addressing issues related to brain development and brain function in health and disease. Among the university-funded projects receiving between $50,000 and $70,000 each is research into potential new treatments for multiple sclerosis. “We are planting seeds that…

AXIM Moving Ahead with Testing of Cannabinoid Products, Including Chewing Gum for MS Patients

AXIM Biotechnologies  announced it has secured financing from private sources to continue its testing of medical cannabinoid products as potential treatments for multiple indications, including pain and spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Specifically, AXIM  is testing pharmaceutical delivery systems and active ingredients for its medical marijuana line. “This financing provides us with…

National Multiple Sclerosis Society Commits $10.5M to Fund 42 Research Efforts

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society announced that is investing more than $10.5 million to support an anticipated 42 new research projects into multiple sclerosis (MS), part of its commitment to scientific efforts aimed at stopping MS, restoring lost function to patients, and, ultimately, ending the disease forever. The dedicated funding is part of a projected society investment of…

Young MS Researchers Invited to Apply for Marilyn Hilton Award

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced that nominations are now being accepted for the Marilyn Hilton Award for Innovation in Multiple Sclerosis Research. The award aims to stimulate new and potentially groundbreaking research into progressive multiple sclerosis (MS),  and the Foundation expects to distribute to $4 million in grants over five years, supporting the…

Mitochon Raises $1.6M to Begin Clinical Tests of Mitochondrial Modulators for MS

Mitochon Pharmaceuticals announced the completion of a second year of financing, raising a total $1.6 million to advance its lead compound, MP101, a mitochondrial targeted neuro-protective agent, into clinical testing. The company is developing mitochondrial modulators for patients with neurodegenerative diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to multiple sclerosis (MS). A number of studies have…

MS Society Funds 3 New Investigations into Symptom Management

The Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society) in the U.K. recently announced  awards targeted towards new MS research. In total, 16 projects carefully selected by both a panel of experts and patients living with MS will share MS Society 2015 funding grants amounting to £1,979,879. All projects fulfilled the requirements of high scientific…

MS Society Supports 2 Projects Advancing MS Care, Services

The United Kingdom based Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society) recently announced £1.98 million in grants to new MS research projects in different disease-related areas. A panel of experts carefully selected 16 projects to be funded through the MS Society’s 2015 grant round, totaling £1,979,879. All selected projects fulfill the requirements of…

MS Society Funds 5 Projects Aiming to Cure the Disease

The Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society) in the United Kingdom recently announced the investment of £1.98 million in new MS research. After an in-depth, rigorous review process of the 58 applications submitted, 16 projects were awarded funding through the MS Society’s 2015 grant round totaling £1,979,879. All applications…

PHARMAC Approves Funding New RRMS Treatments in New Zealand

New Zealand-based Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC) has approved the funding of new treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS), which are expected not only to reach more patients, but also be more effective in curtailing the disease’s progressive symptoms. The therapies currently funded are meant for the treatment of …