Recipients of the Alliance's Collaborative Network Awards; Francisco Quintana, Gianvito Martino and Douglas Arnold, attend the press conference during ECTRIMS with Scientific Steering Committee member, Caroline Sincock

In an unprecedented global effort to end progressive MS, the International Progressive MS Alliance has awarded €4.2 million each to three collaborative research teams (a total investment of €12.6 million) to accelerate the pace of progressive MS research. More than 2.3 million people worldwide live with MS and more than one million of those living with the disease have progressive MS.

These grants, known as ‘Collaborative Network Awards’ are multi-year grants that invest significant funding to fuel international networks of researchers and institutions that have worked together and demonstrated that their network has potential to make crucial breakthroughs in understanding and treating progressive MS.

The 3 projects that have received Collaborative Network Awards will focus on key priorities in quickly finding answers in relation to treating progressive MS:

Dr Douglas Arnold, from McGill University, Canada will lead 16 global investigators to identify a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) marker of disability progression for use in clinical trials. This study has the extraordinary potential to inform proactive treatment for people with not-yet-evident progressive MS and make clinical trials of new medications for progressive MS faster and more powerful.

Professor Gianvito Martino from San Raffaele Hospital Milan, Italy will work with 13 global investigators to develop an in vitro (test-tube based) system to discover new drugs to target myelin repair and nerve protection for progressive MS, with the aim to implement a clinical trial by 2020.

Dr Francisco Quintana from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, United States will collaborate with 8 global investigators to identify drugs that may be effective therapies to target the innate immune system in progressive MS and will be ready for evaluation in patients within four years.

When describing the three awardees, Prof. Alan Thompson, Chair of the Alliance’s Scientific Steering Committee said:

The quality, breadth, innovation and focus of these awards has the potential to bring forth some of the most important and potentially transformative work in the area of progressive MS

The International Progressive MS Alliance is a worldwide collaborative of MS organisations that fund developments in progressive MS research, including disease-modifying therapies and symptom treatments.

The Collaborative Network Awards aim to accelerate progress in:

  • Drug discovery programs that identify and validate molecular and cellular targets and screen and characterize drug candidates, which may be either repurposed or first-in-human drugs;
  • The discovery, advancement and validation of new or existing biological or imaging biomarkers; and,
  • Proof-of-concept trials and trial designs, including but not limited to, trials in remyelination, neuroprotection, enhanced plasticity.