Diet, gut bacteria, myelin repair trials and patient-centered wellness programs
are among the new leads being explored to move us closer to a world free of MS
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has committed $28 million to support an expected 84 new MS research projects and training awards. These are part of a comprehensive research strategy aimed at stopping MS, restoring function that has been lost, and ending the disease forever.
The National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter is excited to learn that these efforts have local ties. Ralph Benedict, PhD at The State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) received a Research Grant for a study called ‘The Role of Cognitive Dysfunction in Defining MS Relapses and Freedom from Disease Activity.’ Researchers at UB are investigating the importance of cognitive problems in MS relapses to identify disease activity during relapses and the absence of disease activity during periods of remission more precisely.
Research collaborators from Buffalo, NY and Berkley, CA have come together to design a web-based tool to collect data regarding individuals MS disease progression, mood, and cognitive symptoms over time. This new tool will be used to improve the conception of the disease and clinical care. This system will be tested for its efficiency in tracking MS symptoms and their progression over time.
Another upstate grant has been given to a promising doctor at the University of Rochester. The Sylvia Lawry Physician Fellowship allows Andrew Smith, MD to develop the skills involved in the design, implementation, and analysis of clinical trials in MS.
One way the Society propels MS research forward is by funding high-risk, high-potential pilot projects to investigate untested ideas. Nineteen projects are being funded in 2015. These one-year grants allow researchers to quickly gather data to determine if ideas are worth pursuing. Grants began April 1, 2015.
Nationwide there are FDA-approved therapies that can impact the underlying disease course in people common forms of MS. None of these can stop progression or reverse damage to restore function. National MS Society-funded research has paved the way for existing therapies—none of which existed several decades ago. The National MS Society continues to be a driving force of MS research.
This financial commitment is the latest in the Society’s relentless research efforts to move us closer to a world free of MS, and part of a projected investment of over $52 million in 2015 alone to support 380 new and ongoing studies around the world. So that no opportunity is wasted, the Society pursues all promising paths, while focusing on priority areas including progressive MS, nervous system repair, gene/environmental risk factors and wellness and lifestyle.
Just a few of the new cutting-edge research projects include a University of California, San Francisco-led consortium focusing on a comprehensive analysis of the gut microbiome to develop probiotic strategies for stopping progressive MS; a pilot trial at Johns Hopkins University exploring the tolerability of a diet that intermittently restricts calorie intake as a treatment for disease activity in people with MS; pre-clinical studies by a commercial firm (Bionure) to test the potential of a compound to protect the nervous system and stimulate repair of nerve-insulating myelin; and a new collaborative center at Oregon Health & Science University to research patient-centered wellness programs to improve the daily life of people with MS.
“The comprehensive nature of these new research investments is very exciting,” Stephanie Mincer, President/Chair of the Society’s Upstate New York Chapter said. “While we’re driving research to stop MS, restore function and end the disease forever, at the same time we’re identifying key interventions and solutions that can help people with MS live their best lives now.”
Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. 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. Here in Upstate New York, the rate of diagnosis of MS doubles the national average. Worldwide, over 2.3 million people live with the unpredictable challenges of multiple sclerosis.
“MS research is a top National MS Society priority, with increasing annual investments to drive solutions for every person with MS,” Mincer said. “We fund the entire research spectrum, propelling novel ideas into the lab, translating breakthroughs into clinical trials, and moving success in clinical trials into new treatments for people living with MS.”
To find the best research with the most promise, the National MS Society relies on more than 130 world-class scientists who volunteer their time to carefully evaluate hundreds of proposals every year. This rigorous evaluation process assures that Society funds fuel research that delivers results in the shortest time possible.
There are FDA-approved therapies that can impact the underlying disease course in people with the more common forms of MS. However, none of these can stop progression or reverse the damage to restore function. National MS Society-funded research paved the way for existing therapies – none of which existed just several decades ago – and continues to be a driving force of MS research.
For more information, contact Ashley Greenman, Senior Manager of Community Engagement, 585-271-0805 (x70322), Ashley.Greenman@NMSS.org.