– What do dietary salt, adult stem cells and gut bacteria have in common? They are among the new leads being explored to move us closer to a world free of MS
The National MS Society has committed another $29 million to support an expected 83 new MS research projects and training awards. These are part of a comprehensive research strategy aimed at stopping MS, restoring function that has been lost, and ending the disease forever – for every single person with MS.
This financial commitment is the latest in the Society’s relentless research efforts to move us closer to a world free of MS, investing more than $50 million in 2014 alone to support over 380 new and ongoing studies around the world. So that no opportunity is wasted, the Society pursues all promising paths, while focusing on three priority areas: progressive MS, nervous system repair, and wellness and lifestyle.
Just a few of the new cutting-edge research projects include studies at Harvard asking whether a high-salt diet or gut bacteria contribute to causing MS or making it progressively worse; an innovative nervous system repair project in France looking at the potential of using a person’s own adult stem cells as “spare parts” for repairing the brain; and a University of Washington wellness study looking at changes in quality of life – including changes in happiness, employment abilities, and satisfaction – for individuals over the first year after their MS diagnosis.
“The broad scope of these new research investments is very exciting,” notes Timothy Coetzee, PhD, the National MS Society’s Chief Advocacy, Services and Research Officer. “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.” Download (.pdf) details about the new research and training projects.
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 the National MS Society’s highest priority, and we are increasing our annual investments yearly to drive solutions for every single person with MS,” says Cynthia Zagieboylo, President and CEO of the Society. “We support and fund research activities spanning ALL research stages, including early discovery research; translational research that brings promising ideas forward into actual therapeutic solutions for testing; and clinical trials, which has resulted in new treatments and better diagnosis and disease management for people 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.