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National MS Society Commits $2.5M for Research by Pediatric MS Network -- 9 pediatric MS centers across the country will benefit

July 1, 2013

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has just committed $2.5 million to support research by the Network of Pediatric MS Centers (NPMSC) beginning July 1, 2013. Funding for the nine-center network provides essential infrastructure to facilitate research, including searching for the cause of MS by studying risk factors for the disease in children, close to the time of exposure. This support for data coordination can be leveraged to answer other important research questions to advance our understanding of the disease in this most vulnerable group.

The Society’s renewed investment supports research activities of the individual centers and the University of Utah Data Coordinating and Analysis Center, which is responsible for patient registry and center collaboration. It also gives NPMSC members ― Boston Children’s Hospital, Loma Linda University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo, Stony Brook University Medical Center, Texas Children's Hospital, University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of California San Francisco  ― the chance to leverage additional funding sources for specific research questions.

“This investment provides the infrastructure and research support needed to keep this unique network ― with the largest group of well-characterized pediatric MS cases in the world ― moving forward,” said Dr. Timothy Coetzee, National MS Society chief research officer. “Driving research to improve the care of children affected by MS and determining what triggers this disease is part of our commitment to all people living with MS.”

The NPMSC was launched with Society funding in 2006 to set the standard for pediatric MS care, educate the medical community about this underserved population, and create the framework to conduct critical research ― both to understand childhood MS and to unlock the mysteries of MS in adults. This initiative, funded through the Society’s Promise: 2010 campaign, laid the groundwork for current studies by the NPMSC to measure clinical and cognitive manifestations of early-onset MS, and track environmental and genetic triggering. In contrast to adult MS, pediatric MS appears to have a narrower window of onset with more rapid and pervasive cognitive symptoms, which need to be better understood if effective treatments are to be provided.

The network has a close alliance with global research efforts through the International Pediatric MS Study Group, convened by the Society in 2002, and which now includes leadership from the MS International Federation, other MS societies, and medical and scientific leaders from more than 15 counties.

“The Network of Pediatric MS Centers is a strategic investment that will help us achieve our most important goal ― a world free of multiple sclerosis,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and CEO of the National MS Society. The network will continue to systematically expand to other centers to enhance research efforts.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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