A second collaborative grant to fight primary and secondary progressive MS

Dr Matthew Miles
31 March, 2017

Dr Doug Arnold

Following on from our recent article on Dr. Fransisco Quintana from the U.S receiving a large grant from the International Progressive MS Alliance to find new treatments for primary and secondary progressive MS – this is our second of three articles about the large network grants recently awarded.

The International Progressive MS Alliance has recently provided three large multi-year grants to networks of some of the world’s best MS researchers to lead the fight against progressive MS. Each grant is for €4.2 million (A$5.8 million) and will run over four years. MS Research Australia, a key player in the global collaborative, will explain what each grant means for people affected by MS. The Alliance has already had significant financial input from 14 countries throughout the world with five countries (Australia, US, UK, Canada, and Italy) and one international federation (MSIF) working to steer the Alliance as Managing Members.

Dr Matthew Miles, CEO of MS Research Australia and an Executive Committee (EC) member of the global Alliance said, ‘Its acknowledging that when we work together, we can achieve much more than we can working alone. Our focus is solely on MS and we are better together’

Beautifully aligning with contemporary MS research grant giving practices- the grants are substantive and the multi-year commitments give the best and brightest in the world the time and resources they really need to make lasting impacts on MS. The grants are structured, however, to fast track potential new therapies for primary and secondary disease in a way that will get potential new therapies to market quicker. Time matters in MS and this is a key theme of the global push.

Dr. Doug Arnold from the world-renowned McGill University in Canada’s primary aim is to identify a biomarker of disability progression for use in clinical trials. Though Canadian-based, this research is a true example of how the best MS researchers from any country work seamlessly with others. In collaboration with 16 investigators from The Netherlands, U.K., U.S., and Switzerland he is making remarkable headway in developing the next generation of tools for measuring disease progression in progressive MS. His team is pioneering the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers that signal MS disease progression, and adapting these for use in early (phase 2) clinical trials of progressive MS treatments. The research examines the underlying idea that brain injury-associated disease progression in MS is detectable by MRI prior to its identification by doctors in a clinic visit, likely due to the ability of the brain to compensate for injury, up to a point. It is hoped that this will provide a much-needed timely indicator on whether the currently available and new treatments for MS are halting progression.

Dr. Arnold believes this research can directly facilitate testing new drugs for progressive MS in trials that are smaller and less expensive, and encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop new therapies for progressive MS. He and his team will create an interactive tool to share the methods they develop with the scientific community.

London-based, world-renowned researcher and Chair of the International Progressive MS Alliance Scientific Steering Committee, Professor Alan Thomson said that ‘these grants are to identify new treatments in MS and all three of the Collaborative Network Awards are entirely focused on that.’

Dr Miles adds that ‘The International Progressive MS Alliance impacts on everyone with MS on a global scale – not just those with primary or secondary disease. One of the key mysteries that we are hoping to unlock together is what are the exact cellular mechanisms of MS progression.  Of course, people with relapsing MS all over the world need to know that this work on continuing to stop progression and completely halt MS – has the global MS research community focused as one.’

If you would like to read more about the International Progressive MS Alliance and its Collaborative Network Awards please visit www.progressivemsalliance.org

MS Research Australia’s support of International Progressive MS Alliance is partly made possible by the additional generosity of some of our funding partners including Foundation 5 Million+ and the MS Society of WA.

Dr Matthew Miles

Dr Matthew Miles is the Chief Executive Officer of MS Research Australia, reporting to the Board of Directors.

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