More than 2.8 million people worldwide currently live with MS. Of these, more than one million people live with a progressive form of MS.
Progressive MS is a type of MS that gets worse over time, affecting areas such as vision, mobility, cognition, ability to work, and independence.
Despite advances in other forms of MS, the discoveries that will lead to treatment for progressive MS have remained stubbornly elusive.
The Progressive MS Alliance
The International Progressive MS Alliance is an unprecedented global collaboration of MS organizations, researchers, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, and people with progressive MS, transforming the landscape of multiple sclerosis.
The Alliance was established in 2012, by six founding members: MSIF, and the MS societies of Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA, who made a joint commitment to speed up the development of treatment for progressive MS by removing scientific and technology barriers.
The Alliance now has 18 member organisations who, between them, have many years’ experience of MS research and have funded significant developments in research, disease-modifying therapies and symptom treatments.
Progress to date
- In 2014 the Alliance awarded their first Challenge Awards to encourage scientific innovation, and Infrastructure Awards to promote data sharing and knowledge management. A total of 21 projects, with researchers based in nine countries, were awarded funding of over €1.5 million. The projects focused on clinical trials and outcome measures, biomarkers (measureable indicators) of progression, gene studies, rehabilitation trials, new disease models, and research to better understand the pathology of progression.
- In 2015 the Alliance selected 11 ‘networks’ (collaborations of at least three research institutions, many of which were multi-disciplinary, from around the world) to receive a Collaborative Network Planning Award of €50,000 for 12 months. These groups and institutions have not worked together in this way before, so the planning awards give the groups of researchers and institutions the time and resources to establish and demonstrate how they will make it work.
- In September 2016 the Alliance announced the successful three networks to receive a four year Collaborative Network Award of €4.2m. As with all of our awards these grants were decided by an international group of renowned researchers and agreed by the Scientific Steering Committee.
- Read about the progress made by the three Collaborative Network Awards in the Alliance 2019 Progress Report.
Solving progressive MS webcast
In April 2019, we were joined by leading MS experts for an International Progressive MS Alliance webcast on ‘Solving progressive MS’.
Our panel of experts discussed the state of progressive MS research, the vital work of the International Progressive MS Alliance and what must be done next to develop breakthrough treatments in progressive MS.
The panel was facilitated by Stuart Nixon. Diagnosed with MS at 18, Stuart serves as co-chair of the UK MS Society’s Scientific Research Strategy Committee and is a recognised global advocate for ensuring people affected by MS can get the support they need to have a good quality of life. Stuart was joined by three MS experts:
- Professor Alan Thompson – Chair of the Progressive MS Alliance Scientific Steering Committee and Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences at University College London;
- Professor Jenny Freeman – Professor of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation at the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom;
- Professor Giancarlo Comi – Co-chair of the Progressive MS Alliance Scientific Steering Committee and Chair of the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and the Director of the Institute of Experimental Neurology at the Scientific Institute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.
Watch the webcast in full below.