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Photo of Catherine sitting on the floor with her dog in Christmas clothing

Dr Catherine Godbold (our research communications manager) and Leela (her canine assistant) wish you a very merry Christmas.

A year in MS research, in rhyme

Dr Catherine Godbold

Discover some of 2021's highlights with a festive poem from our Research Communications Team. 

T’was the week before Christmas when all through the land,
researchers donned Christmas jumpers, with mince pies in hand.
We wrote you this update and rhymed it with care,
in hopes that our readers, like you, would be there.
So we trust you're all nestled, snuggled down with a brew,
to indulge in 2021’s highlights from your research team crew.

The money you helped us to raise

First is new funding you've helped us to raise,
we'll spend it on research with care, as always.

Two Centres of Excellence, MS research hubs,
got £3.7 million to search for the drugs,
that’ll keep nerves happy in test tube or dish,
and go on to be screened in transparent fish.

And of course about Octopus, I’m sure you’ve all heard,
our Multi-Arm, Multi-Stage trial – MAMS is the word.
It’s the biggest investment we’ve ever made,
£13 million to Professors Max Parmar and J. Chataway.

Clinical trials

Now onto our progress in clinical trials,
though we know that these studies can take quite a while,
every year we get closer to the answers we seek,
disability worsening, that’s what we want to treat.


First is simvastatin in MS-STAT2.
Will this drug slow progression,
better than placebos do?
During the pandemic, recruitment was tough,
but with almost a thousand, we’ve now got enough.

It’s the largest trial for progressive MS,
led by academics, the best of the best.
Thanks to everyone who stuck by our side,
we should have results in 2025!


ChariotMS is testing an existing DMT.
It’s asking how effective cladribine could be,
in helping people use their arms and hands,
20 hospital sites across the country are planned.

It’s the first trial that's just for more advanced MS,
will progression slow down if the immune system’s suppressed?
In August a painter was the first person to start,
and we need about two hundred more to take part.

Discover more about ChariotMS and how you can take part

Research findings

Now onto results, what researchers discovered,
A few things you might have seen media cover.

Nerves and MS

Like when an expert from Scotland, Prof Anna Williams her name,
looked at whether all nerves are affected the same.
Inhibitory interneurons, of them there were less,
in tissue donated by folk with MS.
But there was no difference in another type of nerve,
even after decades, they were still preserved.

Boosting myelin repair

And another researcher by the name of Bjorn Neumann,
found changing a gene in a mouse (not a human),
made ageing cells that become slightly deficient,
act like young cells whose myelin repair’s more efficient.

Smoking and MS

The UK MS register gave us something to chew.
They looked at folk who quit smoking, now what did that do?
Turns out that quitting can slow down the rate,
of disability worsening, which is pretty great.
In fact if you quit it'll match up the speed,
of those who never smoked, that’s the info we need.
Catch up with our latest research news

Plans for 2022

So those were some milestones, and though each can seem small,
our progress is clear when we look at them all.
Together they’re moving our understanding forward,
with Stop MS Appeal funding raised by teams under Clare Horward.

What's next for MS research?

Before I wrap up and say farewell to you,
Here’s what we have in store for 2022.

Metformin and cladribine trial

A new trial is starting, dates still up in the air,
will a combo of drugs help boost myelin repair?
Metformin is used to treat diabetes,
first shown effective in a rodent species.
Clemastine can help with pesky hay fever,
And in early trials it’s not done too badly either.

Octopus announcement

And of course there’s the moment you’ve all waited for,
our Octopus treatments announcement, just a few months more.
People with progressive MS can start joining soon after,
when it finally opens, we’ll sing from the rafters.

MS Frontiers conference for researchers

In July we have Frontiers, a conference we run,
experts around the country, to Swansea they’ll come,
to share their ideas for research collaboration,
And while I’m on Swansea, I’ll note a coming celebration.

Happy Birthday MS Register!

The MS Register's birthday, ten years it’s been going,
the number of people taking part just keeps on growing.
Our teams use the data again and again,
From global COVID advice to our Neuro campaign.

And with that I’ll just say, before the year's out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!"