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Stopping MS In Its Tracks

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There are more potential MS therapies in development today than at any other time in history, and a variety of therapies exist, largely for those with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. For some, these treatments reduce the number and severity of attacks and slow disease activity.
 
We are making significant progress in stopping MS:
  • The Society joined with NIH to launch a therapy trial of the re-purposed therapy ibudilast in primary-progressive and secondary-progressive MS. Results suggest that ibudilast significantly slowed the rate of brain atrophy (shrinkage), which has been linked to cognitive and physical disability in MS.This therapy has been designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a “Fast Track Product” in terms of its development as a possible treatment of progressive MS.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the expansion of the use of the oral MS therapy Gilenya® (fingolimod, Novartis AG) to include the treatment of children and adolescents 10 years of age or older with relapsing MS. This is the first therapy specifically approved to treat pediatric MS.
  • The Progressive MS Alliance is a growing global initiative to end progressive MS. The Alliance began by bringing together the world’s leading experts in multiple sclerosis to identify the critical knowledge and treatment gaps where progress must be made to achieve breakthroughs necessary to change the world for people with progressive MS. In 2017, work began on the Collaborative Network Awards, multi-year grants that fuel international networks of researchers and institutions, working together to make crucial breakthroughs in understanding and treating progressive MS.
  • There is increasing understanding that malfunctioning mitochondria, the tiny energy producers of cells (like battery packs), may contribute to nervous system damage in MS, opening up possibilities for preventing that damage. 
  • An international team has reported the feasibility and safety of using a patient’s own altered blood cells to reduce immune responses against specific components of myelin.
  • The National MS Society-launched MS Outcome Assessments Consortium and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continue to clear a pathway for a new tool for improving and speeding clinical trials in MS. This team already has generated a new database containing nearly 2500 patient records from the placebo arms of nine MS clinical trials is now available for research by qualified investigators. 
  • The Society contributed to the MS-SMART Trial (with the MS Society of the UK), which is testing three neuroprotective agents.
Identifying the causes of MS, and the underlying mechanisms and biological pathways involved in MS injury to the brain and spinal cord, will expose new targets for the development of treatments to stop the damage that causes disability. Diagnosing progressive disease based on biomarkers, in addition to clinical presentation would enable the testing of therapies earlier, promising better ways of protecting the nervous system from MS injury. High impact research areas include:
  • Clarifying the destructive and protective roles of the adaptive and innate immune system, including both infiltrating and compartmentalized cells
  • Determining the causes of tissue injury at different stages of disease, and whether neurodegeneration and demyelination can be independent events in MS
  • Determining how evolving MRI sequences relate to pathological changes in the central nervous system
  • Leveraging big data and transformative technologies to identify and interrogate relevant biological pathways and clinical/demographic features that influence disability progression
  • Ensuring access to human central nervous system tissues/cells from MS patients and healthy controls for the purpose of gaining a thorough understanding of the neuropathology of MS
  • Determining the specific pathologic underpinnings of MS progression
  • Identifying objective indicators of disease activity that mark the transition to progression, measure treatment impact, and predict an individual’s course and response to therapy
  • Determining mechanisms underlying the causes of progression in the absence of acute inflammation or relapses, the transition from relapsing to secondary progressive MS, and whether primary progressive and secondary progressive MS have similar biological underpinnings
  • Developing better animal models that recapitulate human pathology to inform the study of the mechanisms underlying MS and progression
  • Developing tools that allow better treatment decision making and personalized medicine, including therapy risks/benefits
  • Testing approaches for the prevention and treatment of MS progression including repurposed/repositioned FDA-approved therapies, impact of early aggressive treatment vs. step therapy, and cell-based therapy 
Read more about our successes and goals for stopping MS.

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