Finding ways to prevent a rare side effect of some MS treatments

Photo: Close up of researcher using a pippette

Lead researcher: Dr Marieke Pingen

Based at: University of Glasgow

Our funding: £104,664

Status: Active

About the project

Progressive multi-focal leukoencaphalopathy (PML) is a rare but potentially fatal infection of the brain. It's caused by a virus that can develop in patients treated with natalizumab and other MS treatments.

Antibodies are produced by our immune system to help our bodies fight infections. Recent research has found people with MS who have a specific type of antibody in their brain have a lower risk of developing PML. Studies using “brain-in-a-dish” cultures and mice have found these antibodies cause a specific response which protects brain cells from infections by viruses.

In this project, researchers hope to find out whether this mechanism can be used to prevent PML. They aim to identify how these antibodies cause the response in mice, and whether they're able to stop the replication of the virus in human brain cells.

How will it help people with MS?

Natalizumab is a highly effective treatment for active relapsing MS, but it can increase someone’s chances of developing PML. Although the risk of developing PML is very low, the outcome can be very serious, and up to one in four people who get PML die.

Understanding more about the biological mechanisms of PML will help researchers develop a strategy to treat and prevent it. This will improve treatment options for people with MS by reducing the risk of PML associated with some treatments.

The difference you can make

You can help us improve treatment options for people with MS.

The next research breakthrough is in reach

Your donation will help stop MS.

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    Our minimum donation is £2, please enter a different amount.

£30could process one blood sample, giving researchers crucial information about genes and the immune system.

£50could pay for an hour on a microscope, so scientists can study cells and tissue in greater detail and improve their understanding of the biology of MS.

£100could pay for half an hour of MRI use, so researchers can monitor the success of clinical trials and understand MS in more detail.

Every penny you give really does take us a step closer to stopping MS. Your donation will make a difference.

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    Our minimum donation is £2, please enter a different amount.

£10a month could pay for lab equipment like microscope slides to study the building blocks of MS

£20a month could pay for lab equipment like petri dishes to grow bacteria important for studying genetics

£30a month could process a blood sample to help us understand what causes MS, so we can stop it in its tracks

Your regular donation means we can keep funding world class MS research with confidence. Together we will stop MS.

MS researcher at work in lab, using a pipette