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National MS Society Joins Collaborative Effort to Identify and Speed Development of Nerve-Protecting Drugs

February 28, 2013

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, Beyond Batten Disease Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society today announced a funding collaboration to support the creation of the Collaborative CNS Screening Initiative (CCSI), a central repository of chemical compounds that have shown significant central nervous system activity. The idea is to share data and speed the development of new therapies that may protect the brain from damage. Led by the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center’s Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration, the CCSI will share emerging compounds with the potential to treat diseases of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord - CNS) among academic drug discovery centers to maximize their potential and accelerate drug discovery efforts within the neuroscience community.

“The CCSI is a significant step toward our common goal of developing unique chemical compounds for neurodegenerative diseases,” said Timothy Coetzee, PhD, chief research officer of the National MS Society. “This initiative is a testament to what we can achieve when we eliminate our research silos and come together as a CNS community.”

The CCSI is envisioned as a simple, cost-effective way to stimulate novel collaborations and accelerate the drug discovery process for the benefit of people living with diseases that impact the central nervous system, including multiple sclerosis. Through the CCSI, screening and early-stage drug discovery centers will submit anonymous CNS-active compounds to a highly selective, shared “library.” The CCSI library will be made available to participating centers to include in their ongoing screening, which will increase the exposure of the shared compounds to a wide range of assays, diseases and conditions to identify beneficial activities. Centers that discover novel activity will be connected with the contributing center to discuss further drug development of the compound.

“With multiple drug discovery centers around the world developing compounds for Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders, the CCSI offers an invaluable opportunity to harness a growing body of CNS-active compounds and use it to drive new discoveries,” said Howard Fillit, MD, executive director and chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.

“The concept is so straightforward, yet funding is scarce for such early-stage initiatives,” said Marcie Glicksman, PhD, co-director of the Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“The CCSI will help researchers pinpoint early-stage CNS compounds that warrant further development, creating a more efficient path toward innovation,” said Danielle Kerkovich, PhD, principal scientist of Beyond Batten Disease Foundation.

Funding for CCSI includes $43,344 from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, and $40,000 each from Beyond Batten Disease Foundation and the National MS Society. Nine academic centers have already committed to participate in the CCSI. Although it will begin as an academic collaboration, the CCSI may eventually expand to include industry and other organizations.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. 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. 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. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.


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