Challenge Award grants are short-term innovative pilot studies to begin filling knowledge and infrastructure gaps. In 2014 the International Progressive MS Alliance awarded their first Challenge Awards to encourage scientific innovation, and Infrastructure Awards to promote data sharing and knowledge management.
A total of 22 projects (since reduced to 20), with researchers based in nine countries, were awarded grants with the goal of removing barriers to developing treatments for progressive MS. The projects focused on clinical trials and outcome measures, biomarkers (measureable indicators) of progression, gene studies, rehabilitation trials, new disease models, and research to better understand the pathology of progression.
The 20 projects were chosen from 195 research proposals submitted by researchers in 22 countries. These were then reviewed by the Alliance’s 40-strong Scientific Review Committee.
This first round of funding is the start of an ambitious programme that will see a total of €22 million invested in progressive MS research over the next six years. The funding will also help forge international collaborative research networks — leveraging research already underway and stimulating new research.
The 20 first-round projects will focus on six areas:
Clinical trials and outcome measures
- Towards a shared data repository to enhance the standards of rehabilitation in MS: feasibility, capacity building and proof-of-concept on exercise therapy and mobility measures
Lead Researcher: Peter Feys, University of Hasselt, Belgium
- Novel infrastructure to enable monitoring of outcomes: real-time remote system to assess disability in progressive multiple sclerosis
Lead Researcher: Paul Matthews, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
- A phase 1, open-label trial of intrathecal rituximab for people with progressive MS who have MRI evidence of leptomeningeal enhancement
Lead Researcher: Peter Calabresi, Johns Hopkins University, USA
- Longitudinal multicenter cervical spinal tract diffusion MRI for progressive MS
Lead Researcher: Junqian Xu,Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA
- Intrathecal monoclonal antibody therapy progressive multiple sclerosis
Lead Researcher: Anders Svenningsson, Umeå University, Sweden
Biomarkers of progression
- Discovery of biomarkers for primary progressive MS
Lead Researcher: Charlotte Teunissen, University Hospital Vrije Universisteit-VUMC, The Netherlands
- Biomarker assessments in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis
Lead Researcher: Xavier Montalban, Institut de Recerca Vall d’Hebron (VHIR), Spain
- Leverage Swedish registration data for analyze MS genetic and environmental factors for severity/progression
Lead Researcher: Tomas Olsson, Umeå University, Sweden
- Genetic analysis of high-resolution imaging endophenotypes in MS progression
Lead Researcher: Sergio Baranzini, University of California, San Francisco, USA
- Establishing the resource for a genetic analysis of progression
Lead Researcher: Stephen Sawcer, ChB, FRCP, MB, PhD, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
- Treating new learning and memory deficits in progressive MS: the modified Story Memory Technique (mSMT)
Lead Researcher: Nancy D. Chiaravalloti, Kessler Foundation Research Center, USA
- The effects of oculomotor retraining on upper and lower limb function in progressive MS:A proof of concept study
Lead Researcher: Jonathan Marsden, M.Sc., Ph.D., Plymouth University, United Kingdom
Underlying pathology of progression
- Miglustat as a therapy for secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis
Lead Researcher: Francisco Quintana, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, USA
- Inflammation as driver of mitochondrial dysfunction and associated neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis
Name of Lead Researcher: Jack van Horssen, VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
- T cell activation molecules and progressive MS
Lead Researcher: David G. Haegert, McGill University, Canada
- Limiting axonal degeneration in a model of multiple sclerosis
Lead Researcher: Steven Petratos, Monash University, Australia
Cause and consequences of mitochondrial injury in progressive multiple sclerosis
Lead Researcher: Don Mahad, M.D., Ph.D., University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
- Can the degree of meningeal inflammation and cortical pathology be used to stratify early progressive MS patients?
Lead Researcher: Massamiliano Calabrese, University of Verona, Italy
Developing new disease models
- New mouse model of repeated demyelination that results in progressive neurological decline
Lead Researcher: Robin Avila, Renovo Neural, Inc., USA
- Azetidine-induced destruction of myelinating cells
Lead Researcher: Raymond Sobel, Stanford University, USA
The research community’s response to our first call for innovative research proposals has been exceptional, and speaks to both the unmet need and the galvanizing force of this international initiative. For the first time, MS societies around the globe are funding research together, without considering geography, in order to find the answers the progressive MS community urgently needs.
Sign up to our e-newsletterfor updates from our growing global initiative to end progressive MS
Clicking submit confirms that you consent to MSIF sending you the Progressive MS Alliance newsletter
Please note, you must be aged 18 or older to subscribe to our newsletters.