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Searching for Better Therapies

We Support academic and commercial research leading toward clinical trials of new therapies to stop damage and progression of disability; we are feeding the pipeline in several ways and pursuing therapies for EVERYONE with MS.


In this article

Paving the way for treatment breakthroughs

The Society paved the way for all existing FDA-approved therapies—none of which existed just 20 years ago. But there are still more questions than answers – we must keep learning and finding solutions for everyone affected by MS.
Here are some ways that Society-funded research has propelled treatment breakthroughs:
  • Interferons: Society-funded investigators were the first to conduct a major clinical trial of any form of interferon in MS.
  • Copaxone: The Society supported pre-clinical tests of what is now Copaxone.
  • Mitoxantrone: Society-funded investigator was among the first to investigate the potential of mitoxantrone in rodents with MS-like disease.
  • Tysabri: The significance of the integrin molecule, the study of which led to the development of Tysabri, was discovered as part of a Society-funded research fellowship.
  • Ampyra: The first studies of the potassium-blocking approach in people with MS were supported by the Society, leading to the approval of Ampyra for its ability to improve walking in people with any type of MS; this was the first therapy specifically approved to treat a symptom of MS 

Funding that drives solutions

We continue to fuel the therapy pipeline in many ways, including:

  • Funding clinical trials. Read about these studies (.pdf).
  • Funding basic research to uncover new targets for stopping the immune attack and protecting and rebuilding the nervous system
  • Funding preclinical research on, and clinical trials of, promising agents in both academic and commercial sectors
  • Identifying funding gaps and providing seed money to support industry-based drug development through Fast Forward.
  • Supporting a program designed to train physicians in the art and science of conducting clinical trials.
  • Funding research and convening experts to develop ways to better track the effects of new therapies on brain tissues and disease activity through imaging and biomarkers, to speed readouts from trials.

Pursuing better therapies for EVERYONE with MS

We are pursuing better therapies for EVERYONE with MS - here's how:

  • 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), 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 a small, phase II clinical trial, the oral antihistamine clemastine modestly improved the transmission of electrical signals in the optic nerve in participants with MS who had optic nerve damage, indicating repair of nerve-insulating myelin. Clemastine was identified as having possible myelin-repairing properties through innovative preclinical research funded by the National MS Society.
  •  A report was published from the International Pediatric MS Study Group's Therapeutic Summit Workshop, outlining optimal trial designs for studying disease-modifying therapies in children with MS to improve care.
  • We provided co-funding to the UK MS Society for an innovative clinical trial testing nerve-protecting therapies in secondary-progressive MS.
  • We are supporting ongoing clinical trials of potential treatments such as vitamin D, antioxidants, and non-drug therapies such as exercise and rehabilitation.
  • Together with ECTRIMS, we sponsored an international workgroup revising clinical classifications of MS to enhance clinical trials and work especially in progressive MS.
  • We're founding members of the Progressive MS Alliance to develop therapies for people with progressive MS.
  • We launched the MS Outcome Assessments Consortium, working toward creating a robust and FDA/EMA-approved clinical outcome measure for MS clinical trials.