Graphic of scientific equipment with a line running down the middle

The history of MS research

The £220 million we've invested in research has led to significant progress in the treatment of MS.

Find out how far we've come, and why we're closer than ever to stopping MS.

1950
Poster advertising inaugural meeting of the MS Society in London on 2 December 1953.

The MS Society is born

In 1953, our founders Richard and Mary Cave are frustrated at the lack of treatments and support available for Mary's MS. So they decide to do something about it. They set up their first meeting in West London, a small number of people attend and the MS Society is born.
Find out about our work
1960
Gif of syringe filled with purple coloured liquid filling and emptying

Research into bladder issues and first trial of steroids for relapses

In the 1960s we fund the first ever large trial of a steroid treatment to help with relapses. We also begin supporting research into bladder problems in people with MS.
Read about bladder problems in MS
1970
1980

We invest in the first MRI scanner for MS

In 1983 we invest £1 million in the first MRI scanner in the world to be solely dedicated to MS research. The scanner changes the way MS is diagnosed.
Read more about MS diagnosis
An MRI scanner
1990
Image of a tray of tissue samples in a lab

MS Society Tissue Bank founded

In 1998 we open our world-leading tissue bank. It uses donated tissue to help scientists across the globe better understand MS - and find new treatments. It's provided tens of thousands of tissue samples to hundreds of research projects since its launch.
Read more about our tissue bank
2000

Guidelines on MS diagnosis developed

In 2001 we support Professor Ian McDonald to develop the McDonald Diagnostic Criteria. It revolutionises the way we diagnose and categorise MS.
Read about diagnosing MS
MRI scans of a brain
2003
Members of the research network

We set up our Research Network

Our Research Network is a group of over 200 people affected by MS who help shape our research programme. They make sure all the research we fund reflects the needs and interests of people living with MS.
Read more about our Research Network
2005
Researcher at work in front of a computer screen

We open the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair

Our Cambridge centre is a world-class research hub where scientists work to understand more about myelin and find new MS treatments.
Read more about our Cambridge centre
2007

We open the MS Society Edinburgh Centre for MS Research

Our Edinburgh centre works to speed up the development of treatments for MS. Working with our Cambridge centre, researchers study the causes and mechanisms behind progressive MS - and investigate new ways to slow or stop progression.
Find our more about our Edinburgh centre
2 lab syringes
2010

Breakthrough in myelin repair research

Research we fund shows for the first time that damaged myelin can be repaired by stem cells.
Read about myelin repair
2011
MS Register log

We launch the UK MS Register

The UK MS Register is the world’s first register to combine real life information from people with MS with clinical and NHS data. The register provides crucial information to researchers and helps build a clearer understanding of the impact of MS on people’s lives.
Read more about the MS Register
Map of the world in orange with purple dots in Australia, America, Canada, and Europe.

We help set up the International Progressive MS Alliance

We’re a proud member of the International Progressive MS Alliance. It's a network of MS charities from around the world, working together to speed up the development of treatments for progressive MS.
Read more about the Progressive MS Alliance
2012

Botox is licensed to treat overactive bladder in MS

We funded the early clinical trials into Botox - a lifechanging treatment for bladder problems in MS.
Read about managing bladder problems

We recruit our Stop MS steering group

The steering group develop our vision to make MS history.

We work with our steering group, Appeal Board members and Pioneers to raise money through fantastic events like our St Paul's Carol Concert and Jacqueline du Pré Tribute Concerts.
Become a Stop MS Pioneer
2014

MS-STAT results 

A clinical trial shows simvastatin can slow the rate of brain shrinkage in people with secondary progressive MS.
Read more about simvastatin
2015
2017

MS-STAT2 begins

We co-fund a study to confirm if simvastatin can slow or stop disability progression for people with secondary progressive MS. The trial will run until 2023 and involve 1,180 people across the UK.
Read more about MS STAT-2

Myelin repair treatment in first UK clinical trial

Our Cambridge and Edinburgh centres find that the molecule RXR gamma promotes myelin repair in animals. Bexarotene (a cancer drug) increases this molecule in the brains of people. It’s now being tested in a phase 2 clinical trial to see if it promotes myelin repair in people with MS.
Read more about myelin repair
GIF showing Myelin repair
2018

MS-SMART results announced

We test 3 repurposed drugs to see if they can protect nerves from damage in secondary progressive MS. The results tell us a lot about the biological pathways in progressive MS, helping researchers rule out and prioritise other drugs for future trials.
Read more about MS-SMART
2019
Gif shows ocrelizumab infusion bag draining out and rogue B cells being shot down

Ocrelizumab approved by NICE

In May 2019, after originally rejecting it, NICE approve the use of ocrelizumab for people with early primary progressive MS on the NHS. 
Read about our Ocrelizumab campaign

We fund a new study into vitamin D and MS 

This project which will see if vitamin D levels are different in people with MS, and identify any factors that could affect these levels. We hope results of this project will inform any future trial testing whether vitamin D supplements could be an effective treatment for MS.
Read more about the Vitamin D trial
Graphic of UK in orange, with the sun in the top right corner
Gif of a medicine bottle going up some stairs

DELIVER-MS – determining the best therapy option for early MS

There’s current uncertainty on the best way to treat MS. This trial will test if using early intensive therapies leads to more favourable outcomes than using less intensive first line therapies.
Read about treatments for MS

Bexarotene trial results expected

The drug bexarotene is being tested in a Phase 2 clinical trial to see if it repairs myelin in people with MS. If successful, it has the potential to be the first myelin repair treatment for people with MS. Results are expected in late 2019.
Read more about bexarotene
Graphic showing myelin and a microscope
Text reads "Into the future" with purple line leading to 2020

We set up our clinical trials platform

The platform will speed up the development of treatments that can slow, and ultimately stop, MS. It will act as a mega-trial, joining up centres around the UK to test many different treatments at the same time. We also hope to switch people on the trial to new drugs if the ones they are on don’t look promising. This has never been done before in MS.
Read about the clinical trials platform
2023

MS-STAT2 results announced

If the MS-STAT2 trial is successful, simvastatin could be one of the first treatments licensed for secondary progressive MS in the UK.
Read about MS-STAT2
Purple line with dot on the end

The next research breakthrough is in reach

Our vision is a future free from the effects of MS. But we need your help.

  • Please enter an amount

    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.

  • Please enter an amount

    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.

Scientist working in a lab