Collaborative Network Awards

After a successful first round of Challenge Awards in 2014, the Alliance has taken a critical next step in moving forward these overall research priorities, with the selection of awardees for Planning grants in support of larger, longer-term Collaborative Network Awards.

The Alliance issued this second call for applications in November 2014, resulting in 52 applications from around the world and involving almost 500 investigators. This Collaborative Network development will accelerate progress in three priority areas:

  1. Drug discovery programs that identify and validate molecular and cellular targets and screen and characterize drug candidates, which may be either repurposed or first-in-human drugs.
  2. The discovery, advancement and validation of new or existing biological or imaging biomarkers.
  3. Proof-of-concept trials and trial designs, including, but not limited to trials in remyelination, neuroprotection, enhanced plasticity

Following an extensive peer and technical review, involving key academia and industry experts, 11 projects were evaluated for receipt of a Collaborative Network Planning Award and will receive a 12-month, €50,000 planning grant. The 11 projects that have received planning grants will then have the opportunity to apply in 2016 for one of three 4-year, €4.2 million grants for the operation of a collaborative network.

In addition, these awardees will be working closely with members of the Alliance Scientific Steering Committee, as well as consult with the Alliance Industry Forum during this planning stage to ensure that the final applications are as strong and competitive as possible.

Recipients of planning grant awards focus on one of the three priority areas. Please click here for a pdf of the project summaries.

Development of pre-clinical drug candidates

  • Development of a drug discovery pipeline for secondary progressive MS
    Lead Researcher: Francisco Quintana, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, USA
  • Stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor-based therapy of progressive MS
    Lead Researcher: Steven Goldman, University of Rochester Medical Center, USA
  • Bioinformatics and cell reprogramming to develop an in vitro platform to discover new drugs for progressive multiple sclerosis (BRAVEinMS) 
    Lead Researcher: Gianvito Martino, Fondazione Centro San Raffaele-1, Italy
  • Mitochondria and progressive MS
    Lead Researcher: Don Mahad, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • An International Network to Decipher Function and Impact of CNS-relevant Risk Variants for MS
    Lead Researcher: David Hafler, Yale University School of Medicine, USA

Development of a meaningful outcome measures (biomarkers)

  • An MRI biomarker for disability progression for use in clinical trials
    Lead Researcher: Douglas Arnold, McGill University, Canada
  • SPINE: Spinal cord imaging to Identify Novel biomarkers of disease Evolution and treatment monitoring in progressive MS
    Lead Researcher: Massimo Filippi, Fondazione Centro San Raffaele-1, Italy
  • Prospectively Defining Secondary Progressive MS
    Lead Researcher: Fred Lublin, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount, USA
  • Novel molecular imaging probes to predict disability progression and evaluate therapies in MS: The PROBIMS network
    Lead Researcher: Bruno Stankoff, University Pierre et Marie Curie, France
  • Development and validation of an innovative, comprehensive measuring system for disease progression in MS & The International MS Visual System Consortium (IMSVISUAL).
    Lead Researchers: Peter Fuhr, University Hospital Basel,  Switzerland & Peter Calabresi, The Johns Hopkins University, USA

Development of clinical trial designs

  • Cognitive rehabilitation and exercise for people with progressive MS: a multicenter, multidisciplinary study. Anthony Feinstein (Sunnybrook Research Institute)(Canada) – Lead Researcher

In addition

In addition the Alliance has taken the step of linking up three teams that were found meritorious with three teams that submitted proposals in a similar area but which were not selected for funding. The Alliance is encouraging these groups to work together in order to facilitate greater impact by these teams. The teams to be linked up are:

  • Gene discovery and lead compound identification for Progressive MS (Lead Researcher: Philip DeJager, Harvard University, USA) will link with An International Network to Decipher Function and Impact of CNS-relevant Risk Variants for MS (Lead Researcher: David Hafler, Yale University School of Medicine, USA)
  • Targeting microglia in progressive MS (Lead Researcher: Richard Nicholas, Imperial College London, UK) will link with Novel molecular imaging probes to predict disability progression and evaluate therapies in MS: The PROBIMS network (Lead Researcher: Bruno Stankoff, University Pierre et Marie Curie, France)
  • Targeting nervous plasticity in progressive MS – a translational approach (Lead Researcher: Letizia Leocani, San Raffaele University, Italy) will link with Cognitive rehabilitation and exercise for people with progressive MS: a multicenter, multidisciplinary study (Lead Researcher: Anthony Feinstein, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Canada)

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