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Cleveland Clinic Receives $825,000 Grant from National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Prestigious Grant to Fund Research for New MS Treatment

January 1, 2004
Source: The Cleveland Clinic Foundation

The Department of Neurosciences at The Cleveland Clinic has received an $825,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to further research in the area of stem cell biology as it relates to multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating disease of the central nervous system.

Bruce Trapp, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Neurosciences at the Clinic and the grant's recipient, will lead a collaborative research effort to develop a small molecule therapy that uses adult stem cells to regenerate oligodendrocytes, the brain cells that are attacked in MS patients.

"What makes this grant so exciting is that it brings together two areas of research, stem cell biology and MS, that are now well-established at the Clinic," Dr. Trapp said. "This award is a complement to the extensive research in the Department of Neurosciences as it pertains to MS."

Oligodendrocytes make myelin, the protective layer and insulation surrounding neurons in the brain. In MS patients, the death of oligodendrocytes results in the loss of myelin, which causes brain lesions to surface. The small molecule therapy under development at The Cleveland Clinic is designed to prompt adult stem cells to make new oligodendrocytes. This, in turn, will create myelin to repair MS lesions.

Co-investigators involved in the small molecule therapy research are Wendy Macklin, Ph.D., of The Cleveland Clinic's Department of Neuroscience; Andrei Gudkov, Ph.D., chairman of the Clinic's Department of Molecular Biology; and Robert Miller, Ph.D., of the Case Western Reserve University Department of Neurosciences.

The grant from the Multiple Sclerosis Society will be awarded over five years starting in April.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues in central nervous system. In MS, these attacks are aimed at myelin. The central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, is made up of nerves that act as the body's control center. Each nerve has a fatty covering of myelin that serves as insulation, which helps in the transmission of nerve impulses (messages) between the brain and body. Once myelin has been damaged, normal nerve function is disturbed, and a number of symptoms can be experienced.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a not-for-profit organization that serves people with MS in every state. Founded in 1946, the society supports more MS research and serves more people with MS than any national voluntary MS organization in the world. Through a nationwide network of chapters, the National MS Society supports research efforts, educates, provides a variety of empowering programs, organizes fund-raising events, and advocates for people with disabilities.

The Lerner Research Institute (LRI), home to The Cleveland Clinic's basic research departments, houses approximately 130 principal investigators and their teams who are pursuing a wide range of biomedical questions. With total annual research expenditures exceeding $150 million from federal agencies, non-federal societies and associations, and endowment funds, the LRI is the fifth largest research institute in the country. The Department of Neurosciences is chaired by Dr. Bruce Trapp and comprises a core of internationally recognized scientists who investigate the cellular and molecular biology of brain development and neuronal and glial function. The department has 12 staff members and approximately 100 employees (project staff, research associates, fellow, students and technicians).

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a not-for- profit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. The Cleveland Clinic was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. U.S. News & World Report consistently names The Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation's best hospitals in its annual "America's Best Hospitals" survey. In 2003, The Cleveland Clinic was ranked fifth overall. Approximately 1,200 full-time salaried physicians at The Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Florida represent more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. In 2002, there were nearly 2.5 million outpatient visits to The Cleveland Clinic and more than 52,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 90 countries. The Cleveland Clinic website address is

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