Research News & Progress - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Skip to navigation Skip to content

Research News & Progress

Share

In this article
We are at a pivotal moment in time where significant progress is being made and breakthrough solutions can change the world for everyone with MS
Learn more NOW about how you can get involved

No Opportunity Wasted

It’s important that we leave No Opportunity Wasted in ending MS.  Learn more NOW about how you can get involved.

We’ve come so far

When Sylvia Lawry started the MS movement in 1946 with the founding of the National MS Society, research into multiple sclerosis was almost non-existent. The disease took years to diagnose, and there were no therapies proven to slow the course of MS.

Things have changed. Decades of research into MS and the basic workings of the immune and nervous systems have built a critical platform of knowledge now serving as a springboard for progress. The Society’s $868 million research investment has fueled many of these advances, and today’s picture looks different for many:

  • There are 15 therapies for specifically approved for treating and managing MS, and more potential MS therapies in development today than at any other time in history.

  • MS is more quickly diagnosed, enabling early and sustained therapy to slow disease activity

  • There is much greater awareness of the many symptoms of MS and ways to address them to improve quality of life

  • Scientists are making breakthroughs in identifying risk factors that can increase a person’s susceptibility to MS, which will help lead to ways to prevent the disease.

 

We have made progress but more must be done for those living with forms of progressive MS for which are no current treatments.  The hope – and potential - for new, more effective treatments for MS has never been greater. We are part of a global movement of millions of people working toward a world free of MS.

Critical Milestones

1981 - First MRI pictures of a brain affected by MS are produced, revolutionizing MS diagnosis
1984 - First modern documentation of cognitive problems in MS
1988 - First demonstration, using MRI, of significant lesion activity in MS, even when the disease seems quiet
1993 - First disease-modifying therapy for relapsing MS approved
1996 - First proof that aerobic exercise improves physical and psychological well-being in MS
1999 - Society grantees first to isolate immature cells in the adult brain capable of developing into replacements for myelin-making cells destroyed by MS
2003 - Italian researchers transplant cells to enhance nerve tissue repair in mice with MS
2004 - Pivotal study by Society Fellow shows that African-Americans tend to have a more aggressive course of MS than Caucasians
2005, 2010 - “McDonald Criteria” for diagnosing MS updated by Society Task Force, speeding time to diagnosis for many
2007 - With support from Society to International MS Genetics Consortium, two genes are confirmed to be linked to MS risk; many more uncovered since
2007 - First large-scale trial of sex hormone estriol gets underway in women with MS, a result of the Society’s targeting of gender differences
2010 - First oral disease-modifying therapy approved for relapsing MS
2012 - Launch of Progressive MS Alliance to speed the development of therapies
2013 - Studies hint that exercise and rehabilitation can improve many functions and even help rewire the brain
2014 - First large, phase 2 clinical trials of myelin repair strategy for MS are launched

Download a Timeline of MS Research Progress (.pdf).

Recent progress and new leads

Researchers are tracking down exciting leads and making headway in virtually every field related to MS. New technologies such as gene chip technology and new MRI-based imaging techniques are also speeding progress.  These advances allow scientists to revisit age-old questions about MS, leading to insights and significant progress toward stopping MS progression, restoring what’s been lost, and ending MS forever. Here are some recent examples:

Stopping MS

  • Researchers are making headway to understand how the body’s gut microbiome may influence MS severity, which could lead to new approaches to stopping MS.
  • Testing is underway of approaches to protecting the nervous system from MS damage, including repurposing therapies already approved for other disorders.
  • Major clinical trials are underway testing novel approaches to treating all forms of MS, including progressive MS.
  • The global Progressive MS Alliance is focusing new resources on finding the answers that will lead to new treatments and ultimately, end progressive MS.

Restoring what’s been lost

  • Scientists are learning new information about how MS damages the nervous system and cells and factors involved in the body’s ability to recover from injury. Early human trials of investigative therapies are underway aimed at repairing myelin.
  • Studies are providing new evidence that exercise and rehabilitation can improve many functions and even help rewire and possibly build areas of the brain, and researchers are pursuing these leads to find the best ways people can maximize quality of life.

Ending the disease forever

  • Studies are uncovering lifestyle factors that people can change – such as smoking, childhood obesity, and vitamin D levels – that may reduce the risk of the next generation developing MS.
  • Researchers have found gene variations that combine to influence whether a person is more susceptible to MS, and are pursuing these clues to help understand what causes MS and how to find better treatments and prevention.

Latest research news

More News

Share

Stem Cells and MS

Stem Cells, HSCT and Other Promising Approaches to Treating MS

Read More

Read More
In the Pipeline

Clinical Trials

Read about MS therapies being tested right now through clinical trials.

Read more

From the Blog

Reflections on Ectrims 2013

Read about progress and challenges in MS research - reflections on ECTRIMS 2013. 

Read More

Read More

The National MS Society is Here to Help

Need More Information?

We Are Here

Our MS Navigators help identify solutions and provide access to the resources you are looking for. Call 1-800-344-4867 or contact us online.





Contact Us

Contact Us
Newly Diagnosed

If you or someone close to you has recently been diagnosed, access our MS information and resources.

Start Here

Start Here