International Progressive MS Alliance awards $28.4M in research grants
The International Progressive MS Alliance has awarded its first round of 22 research grants to investigators in nine countries, with the goal of removing barriers to developing treatments for progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The alliance is a worldwide collaborative focused on finding solutions to progressive forms of multiple sclerosis that have so far eluded the scientific community.
This first round of funding launches an ambitious program that will cumulatively invest $28.4 million over the next six years and will forge international collaborative research networks, leveraging research already underway and stimulating new research through the alliance’s significant funding programs.
For this initial offering, 195 research proposals were received from 22 countries throughout the world.
“The research community’s response to our first call for innovative research proposals has been exceptional, and speaks to both the unmet need and the galvanizing force of this international initiative,” said Cynthia Zagieboylo, chair of the Alliance Executive Committee and CEO of the National MS Society (U.S.). “For the first time, MS societies around the globe are funding research together, without considering geography, in order to find the answers the progressive MS community urgently needs.”
The first grants are short-term, innovative pilot studies to begin filling knowledge and infrastructure gaps such as identifying and testing potential treatments, understanding nerve degeneration and building databanks and biobanks—repositories of biological samples for use in research—to better understand long-term imaging, genetics and outcomes associated with progressive MS. These pilot studies have terms of one to two years.
The 22 first-round projects will be directed by scientists at leading research universities and companies in these key areas:
- Clinical trials and outcome measures: Hasselt University, Belgium; Imperial College London, U.K.; Johns Hopkins University, U.S.; Mount Sinai School of Medicine U.S.; Umeå University, Sweden.
- Biomarkers of progression: VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, Netherlands; Vall d’Hebron Research Institute, Spain.
- Gene studies: Karolinska Institute, Sweden; University of California San Francisco, U.S.; the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, U.K.
- Rehabilitation trials: Kessler Foundation Research Center, U.S.; Plymouth University, U.K.
- Underlying pathology of progression: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, U.S.; VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, Netherlands; McGill University, Canada; Monash University, Australia; University of Edinburgh, U.K.; University of Verona, Italy; Yale University, U.S.
- Developing new disease models: Renovo Neural, U.S.; Stanford University, U.S.
Strategic funding priorities of the alliance are being guided by MS researchers from multiple disciplines and countries. They focus on:
- Better understanding progression so treatments can be identified
- Designing shorter, faster clinical trials that measure patient outcomes
- Conducting trials to test agents that stop or reverse progression
- Developing and evaluating new therapies to manage symptoms.
“By bringing attention to progressive MS, convening academic and industry leaders and offering a new source of grant funding to researchers around the world, the alliance is positioning itself to accelerate results with the most impact and to change the lives of people living with progressive MS,” said Dr. Alan Thompson, chair of the alliance’s scientific steering committee and dean of University College London Faculty of Brain Sciences.
To ensure accelerated progress, the alliance will be releasing a new request for applications later this year.