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Progress on progressive MS

Caitlin Astbury

Progressive MS is one of the top priorities of the global research community.

Here's how we're funding world class research into new treatments and improved care and services for people with progressive MS.

Causes of nerve damage in progressive MS

Through our 2018 grant round, we’ve funded a range of exciting new research projects which will help us learn more about both relapsing and progressive MS. Two of them look specifically at progressive MS.

Dr Gabriele DeLuca, a researcher at the University of Oxford, is working to find out more about the proteins that cause nerve damage in progressive MS. We know when nerve cells die in MS, it can result in permanent disability. Gabriele and his team aim to understand more about the causes of nerve loss in MS and how the condition advances in progressive MS.

By identifying the nerve-damaging molecules released in the brain in MS, we can develop treatments to stop them. 

Understanding fatigue on a biological level

In Edinburgh, Dr Don Mahad and his team are working to understand more about how damage to the connections between nerve cells could be responsible for fatigue.

They hope that understanding more about what happens on a biological level will allow them to identify new targets for drug treatments to treat fatigue and protect nerves from damage.

A global alliance

As well as funding projects through our grant round, we’re also a proud member of the International Progressive MS Alliance.

The Progressive MS Alliance is made up of MS charities from around the world, who have come together to support research into progressive MS. We are co-founders and major supporters of this initiative.

The Alliance is currently funding three multi-million pound grants for vital, collaborative projects. These aim to speed up the development and testing of effective treatments for people with progressive MS.

Clinical trials for progressive MS

In order for these research projects to have the greatest impact, we need to run quick and efficient clinical trials to test potential treatments.

Recruitment has now been completed at our Cambridge and Edinburgh centres for a phase 2 trial to see if a drug called bexarotene can boost myelin repair.

Although the trial only involves people with relapsing MS, a myelin repair treatment could help everyone with MS. Results telling us whether it has the potential to be the first myelin repair treatment for MS are due next year.

Research into Simvastatin and ocrelizumab

We’re also proud to be co-funding the MS-STAT2 trial – a phase 3 trial which will look at whether a drug called simvastatin can slow disability progression in people with secondary progressive MS. If it does, it could become one of the first disease modifying therapies for people with secondary progressive MS.

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London are investigating whether ocrelizumab can help people with primary progressive MS retain the use of their hands.

We’re making real progress for people with progressive MS, and we hope that the year ahead will bring more research breakthroughs.