The Progressive MS Alliance
It's a network of MS charities from around the world that have come together to achieve one key goal: to speed up the development of treatments for progressive MS.
How the Progressive MS Alliance works
What is the Progressive MS Alliance?
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 are co-founders and major supporters of this initiative. With about £17.5 million of research being funded by the Alliance in our first five years, it is an exciting chance to achieve real breakthroughs that will make a difference to people with progressive MS.
By working together, we can support bigger, more ambitious and more expensive research projects to develop new treatments for people with MS more quickly.
Who is involved?
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 Spain and Denmark 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 projects are we currently funding?
We announced our latest round of funding in September 2016, funding three ambitious research projects. These multi-million pound grants are designed to support vital, collaborative projects that aim to speed up the development and testing of effective treatments for people with progressive MS.
Three projects were chosen from 11 shortlisted applications. They involve researchers in nine countries working together to accelerate the progress of progressive MS research. The three projects are:
How can we measure disability progression using MRI?
We don’t have reliable ways to measure the benefits of treatments for progressive MS in small clinical trials. This slows down drug development and makes it harder to identify promising treatments.
Our researchers want to develop better markers of clinical progression using MRI. This would help us to identify promising treatments more quickly in phase 2 clinical trials. And, ultimately, it will speed up the development of effective treatments for progressive MS.
This project is led by Douglas Arnold, based at McGill University in Canada and involves researchers from the Institute of Neurology at University College London, the Netherlands, USA and Italy.
Development of a drug discovery pipeline for progressive MS
Scientists have identified certain immune cells in the central nervous system that can promote disease progression in progressive MS. These immune cells are not affected by current disease modifying therapies.
The team plan to identify drugs that can alter the behaviour of these immune cells, and test whether they are effective in progressive MS. They want to take promising treatments forward into clinical trials.
This project is being led by Francisco Quintana, based at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, USA and involves researchers in Canada and Israel.
Screening for new drugs for progressive MS (BRAVEinMS)
BRAVEinMS is focused on finding new treatments for progressive MS. The team will begin by screening a large number of molecules that are known to be safe for humans.
Promising drugs that come out of this screen will then be tested further, allowing us to understand if and why they might be beneficial in progressive MS.
The team will use a variety of techniques to identify the most promising treatments, including animals with a condition similar to MS. They want to develop treatments that can be taken to clinical trials by the end of 2020.
BRAVEinMS is led by Gianvito Martino at the Fondazione Centro San Raffaele-1 in Italy and involves researchers based in the USA, France, Canada and Germany.
What research have we supported so far?
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 are helping us to better under progression, develop better clinical trials, and help to inform the development of better treatments to manage symptoms in progressive MS.