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Positive results from mouse studies testing a new experimental therapy for MS

December 8, 2023

Results were published from studies in which researchers designed and tested a small molecule to reduce the overexcitement of nerve cells that can lead to their destruction in lab models of MS. Many additional lab and human studies will be needed to prove the safety and potential benefits of this approach for treating people living with multiple sclerosis.
Background and Details: MS involves attacks of the body’s own immune system on the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve, leading to tissue destruction. Several underlying mechanisms are thought to contribute to tissue damage, including over excitement (“excitotoxicity”) of nerve cells involving the nerve signaling molecule glutamate.
  • Lead investigator Dr. Fang Liu (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto) and collaborators conducted a series of studies to uncover a small molecule that could help prevent excitotoxicity.
  • They then tested the ability of this small molecule to protect against nerve damage in two different mouse models that mimic some immune and tissue damaging aspects of human MS.
  • They found that the molecule could preserve neurological function and protect against damage to nerve-insulating myelin, apparently without blocking the normal ability of nerves to send and receive signals.
  • More lab and human studies will be needed before this approach can prove safe and beneficial for people living with MS.
  • These studies were funded in part by the National MS Society’s Fast Forward Commercial Research Program, MS Canada, the Canadian Institute of Health Research, and others.
Comment: Walt Kostich, PhD, head of the National MS Society (USA)’s Fast Forward commercial research program, commented, “We are pleased to have helped to enable the early development of a novel neuroprotective strategy for MS, and look forward to seeing it progress through the critical next stages needed to determine its potential benefits for people living with MS.”
"Small-molecule targeting AMPA-mediated excitotoxicity has therapeutic effects in mouse models for multiple sclerosis," by Dongxu Zhai, Shuxin Yan, James Samsom, Le Wang, Ping Su, Anlong Jiang, Haorui Zhang, Zhengping Jia, Izhar Wallach, Abraham Heifets, Chiara Zanato, Chih-Chung Tseng, Albert H.C. Wong, Iain R. Greig, and Fang Liu, was published online on December 8, 2023 in the journal Science Advances.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


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