2016 Progress Report

2016 progress in MS research

To date, the Alliance has committed €23 million in cumulative global research investments. Through the Challenge Awards and the Collaborative Network Awards, the Alliance is generating knowledge to find new treatments for progressive MS.

Research highlights from the Challenge Awards

The Alliance awarded 22 awards of €75,000 in 2014, designed to improve understanding of genetic and biological processes, repurpose existing drugs and speed clinical trials.

Some highlights of research progress in 2016 include:

Can the degree of meningeal inflammation and cortical pathology be used to stratify early progressive MS patients?
This large scale pathophysiology project analyzed cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in an attempt to correlate CSF changes with cortical injury in MS patients. Findings could lead to the development of biomarkers for MS.

Novel infrastructure to enable monitoring of outcomes: real-time remote system to assess disability in progressive multiple sclerosis
Using actigraph technology, which is a non-invasive method of monitoring human rest/activity cycles, this data-sharing study evaluated real time assessment of gait and walking speed and could be a useful tool for the progressive MS community. This research may enhance the area of health “apps”.

Intrathecal monoclonal antibody therapy progressive multiple sclerosis
This study was a clinical trial testing an injectable administration of rituximab via the spinal canal (intrathecal) into the cerebrospinal fluid. This group showed that intrathecal administration could completely deplete peripheral B cells (part of the immune response) using a low dose of rituximab. This trial adds to understanding the role of B cells in MS and the effects of directly administering drugs into the central nervous system.

Longitudinal multicenter cervical spinal tract diffusion MRI for progressive MS
This data sharing study applied advanced imaging to the spinal cord and is making progress in two key areas: 1) Standardizing spinal cord imaging to measure atrophy; 2) Developing advance imaging methods of the spinal cord to understand the pathophysiology of progressive MS.

Collaborative Network Awards

In September 2016 we announced the three projects selected to receive Collaborative Network Awards:

BRAVEinMS (Lead Researcher: Gianvito Martino, M.D., Department of Neurology, Scientific Institute San Raffaele, Italy)
This network will develop one or more drugs that will repair damage to the brain, or protect the brain from damage altogether.

MS Treatment Efficacy (Lead Researcher: Francisco Quintana, Ph.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital, U.S.)
This network will identify and evaluate drugs that protect the brain from damage in progressive MS.

MRI Predictive Testing (Lead Researcher: Douglas Arnold, M.D., McGill University, Canada)
This network will develop and share worldwide, a test that will predict changes in the brain during MS progression and how progression affects the brain.

Expanding Alliance Membership

In 2016, the Alliance welcomed a new member, Neuroförbundet (Sweden).  Eight trust and foundation members also joined the Alliance:

  • The Alan Buegeleisen Fund
  • The Avidan Family Charitable Trust
  • Cathy and Bill Onufrychuk
  • Dean Smith on behalf of FUMS (Fighting and Understanding MS)
  • In memory of Georg Bruun on behalf of the Bruun Family and CP ApS
  • M&H Schwartz Family Foundation
  • MS Hope for a Cure (USA)
  • Yellow Rose Gala Foundation

To read more about the great progress made this year, please download the report below:

Download the 2016 Progress Report

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