The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has just committed $10.7 million to support 26 new research projects investigating many aspects of multiple sclerosis (MS). Added to present commitments, the Society will spend an estimated $30 million this year to fund over 300 new and ongoing MS investigations – more MS research than any voluntary health organization in the world – to cure, treat, and better understand this unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Summaries of the projects can be found in the Spring 2001 issue of “New Research,” at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/pdf/research/spring_01.pdf.
“We’re excited by the promise these new projects hold for bringing answers to MS,” says Stephen C. Reingold, PhD, Vice President of Research Programs. “We’ve invested $290 million to find the cause and cure for MS since our founding 55 years ago -- an investment into basic and clinical research that is responsible for the rapid progress we’re seeing now.”
There are four drugs on the U.S. market (Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone and Novantrone) that can impact the underlying disease course in people with the more common forms of MS. But none of these drugs can stop or reverse the disease. The Society funded basic research that led to the development of several of these drugs, and continues to advance research that will help end the devastating effects of MS.
Two of the newly-funded projects are part of the Society’s multi-million dollar targeted research initiative to determine what gender differences in MS can tell scientists about the cause and better treatment of the disease. This targeted effort was initiated in part because MS is more than twice as common in women as in men. Another of these new projects is part of the Society’s targeted research effort to discover which genes make people susceptible to developing MS. Although MS is not inherited in a classical sense, several genes are thought to contribute to a person’s risk of developing the disease.
Funds for research awards are provided in large part by contributors to the nationwide network of local chapters of the National MS Society, which also provide programs in communities across the U.S.