September 25, 2002
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has just committed $15.4 million to support 50 new research projects by top scientists investigating many aspects of multiple sclerosis (MS). Summaries of the projects can be found in the Fall 2002 issue of “New Research.”
Added to present commitments, the Society will spend over $32 million this year to fund more than 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.
“These exciting new projects include a large-scale clinical trial and promising efforts in targeted research exploring gender differences in MS and genetic susceptibility,” says Stephen C. Reingold, PhD, Vice President of Research Programs. “We’ve invested $350 million to find the cause and cure for MS since our founding 56 years ago – an investment into basic and clinical research that is responsible for the rapid progress we’re seeing now.”
There are now five drugs on the U.S. market (Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, Novantrone and Rebif) 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 National MS Society funded much of the 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.
Among these grants are six new research projects on gender differences in immune responses, which are the result of a first-ever collaboration between the National MS Society and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. The collaboration brings $7.3 million of new, joint funding to studies MS-related questions including how sex hormones influence the behavior of immune cells, how pregnancy changes immune responses, and how an immune function gene which is different in men and women may contribute to MS susceptibility.
Another new project is a New York City-based, multi-center clinical trial testing oral versus intravenous steroids to treat MS attacks. Its results could have a profound impact on the practice of medicine related to treating MS attacks.
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.
© 2002 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society