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The Progressive MS Alliance

We're a member of the International Progressive MS Alliance. An international network of MS charities with one goal: to speed up the development of treatments for progressive MS.

MS charities from around the world have come together for the first time to jointly support research into progressive MS on a global scale. We're co-founders and major supporters of this initiative. Working together means we can support bigger and more ambitious research projects to develop new treatments for people with progressive MS more quickly.

Who's involved in the Alliance?

The Alliance brings together organisations from across the world, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Italy. We’re also joined by the MS International Federation, which represents more than 40 MS charities worldwide.

MS charities in 12 countries provide additional support, and we’re keen to see the Alliance grow even more in the future.

Our research priorities

The Progressive MS Alliance aims to connect experts from different research backgrounds to tackle the causes and symptoms of progression in MS.

Together we want to:

Better understand progression

  • exploring the causes and outcomes of progression
  • developing more effective treatments

Design better clinical trials for progressive MS

  • designing shorter and faster clinical trials means reduced costs
  • increasing the number of trials of new treatments
  • reducing the time taken for new treatments for progressive MS to be approved

Develop and re-purpose drugs against progression

  • identifying factors responsible for progressive MS
  • targeting these factors by developing and testing the effect of new therapeutic drugs
  • testing drugs already approved for other conditions (re-purposing)

Develop new strategies to manage symptoms

  • providing more immediate therapies for everyday issues that people with progressive MS experience, like fatigue
  • researching new treatments for managing symptoms of MS
  • researching rehabilitation methods, such as physiotherapy

What are we funding right now?

We announced the latest round of funding in July 2021, funding 19 projects around the world. Three are based in the UK. Here’s what they aim to do:

Calm over-excited nerves

Professor David Baker, from Queen Mary University of London, will explore how to protect nerve cells from becoming dangerously over-excited. If nerves become over-excited, it can lead to nerve cell death, which plays a big part in MS progression.

Enhance natural protective responses

Dr Don Mahad, from Edinburgh University, previously uncovered that the diabetes drug pioglitazone could protect nerves from damage. So far, they’ve shown this in mice, but this funding means the team can now move the research into human tissue.

Target oxygen shortage

At University College London, Professor Ken Smith will explore exactly when the fatal injury that leads to nerve cell death in progressive MS actually happens. His project will ask whether intervening to prevent the inflamed nervous system from getting too little oxygen could affect the level of impairment experienced as a result.

What have we funded so far?

In September 2016, we announced another round of Alliance funding for three ambitious projects, shortlisted from 11. They involved researchers in nine countries working together to accelerate the progress of progressive MS research. They included:

  • measuring disability progression using MRI
  • developing a drug discovery pipeline for progressive MS
  • screening new drugs for progressive MS.

In September 2014, we announced the first round of Alliance funding for 22 new, innovative research projects across nine different countries, including four in the UK. These projects were about better understanding progression, developing better clinical trials, and informing the development of better treatments to manage symptoms in progressive MS.

Find the latest progress report on the International Progressive MS Alliance website.