The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has committed new funding to expand the Network of Pediatric MS Centers (NPMSC) to 12 nationwide, including new centers at Cleveland Clinic, the University of Colorado and Washington University in St. Louis. Expanding this research network by three centers will enhance the ability to understand childhood multiple sclerosis and its treatment, and to unlock the mysteries of MS in adults.
The Society’s expansion of the network 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 network members the chance to leverage additional funding sources for specific research questions. Since 2013, the Society has committed $2.8 million to support the research Network to provide 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 it is diagnosed.
“This is one of the largest groups of well-characterized pediatric MS cases in the world, and these three new centers make the network even stronger,” said Dr. Bruce Bebo, Executive Vice President, Research, for the National MS Society. “Working together, this network is propelling knowledge to identify everyday solutions that change the lives of children with MS, while seeking the answers that will stop MS, restore function and end MS forever.”
The three new centers join nine others in the network: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Children’s Hospital Boston, 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 and University of California San Francisco. The network will continue to systematically expand to other centers to enhance research efforts.
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. This initiative 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 Society.