The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society has committed nearly $19 million to support an expected 54 new MS research projects. These are part of a comprehensive research strategy aimed at stopping MS, restoring function that has been lost and ending the disease forever.
The Society is investing more than $50 million in 2014 alone to support 380 new and ongoing studies around the world. The Society pursues all promising paths, while focusing on three priority areas: progressive MS, nervous system repair and wellness and lifestyle.
Research projects include a study at Stanford University using skin cells to produce repair cells for possible future use to restore nerve-insulating myelin in MS; preclinical studies by a commercial firm (Glialogix) to test the nervous system-protective qualities of an oral therapy repurposed to address progressive MS; a Mayo Clinic study of beneficial gut bacteria for clues to a novel therapeutic strategy for MS; and a wellness study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign testing whether an exercise program done at home can increase strength and balance and reduce falls in people with MS.
"The comprehensive nature of these new research investments is very exciting," said Bruce Bebo, Ph.D., National MS Society executive vice president, research. "While we're driving research to stop MS, restore function and end the disease forever, at the same time we're identifying key interventions and solutions that can help people with MS live their best lives now."
Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. Worldwide, over 2.3 million people live with the unpredictable challenges of multiple sclerosis.
"MS research is a top National MS Society priority, with increasing annual investments to drive solutions for every person with MS," said Cynthia Zagieboylo, president and CEO of the Society. "We fund the entire research spectrum, propelling novel ideas into the lab, translating breakthroughs into clinical trials and moving success in clinical trials into new treatments for people living with MS."
To find the best research with the most promise, the National MS Society relies on more than 130 world-class scientists who volunteer their time to carefully evaluate hundreds of proposals every year. This rigorous evaluation process assures that Society funds fuel research that delivers results in the shortest time possible.
There are FDA-approved therapies that can impact the underlying disease course in people with the more common forms of MS. However, none of these can stop progression or reverse the damage to restore function. National MS Society-funded research paved the way for existing therapies—none of which existed 20 years ago—and continues to be a driving force of MS research.