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Friday, November 20, 2015

MS Society Invests in Research into Underlying Causes of Disease

<span class="entry-title">MS Society Invests in Research into Underlying Causes of Disease</span><span class="entry-subtitle">6 of 16 selected projects share £1.98 million society award</span>

The Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society) in the United Kingdom recently announced the investment of £1.98 million in new MS research. The 16 projects awarded funding through the MS Society’s 2015 grant round were thoroughly evaluated in a rigorous review process.
In total, 58 projects applied for MS Society grants this year. All applications were reviewed by a panel of experts who assessed the projects in terms of high scientific quality, sound evidence base, and alignment with the MS Society’s research strategy. In addition, the applications were reviewed by individuals living with MS as a way to guarantee that those selected were of relevance to people directly suffering directly from this condition.
In the end, 16 projects secured  a total of £1,979,879 in funding and can be divided into fourcategories: cause, cure, care and services, and symptom management, and are expected to get underway in the coming months.
Six projects were related to research on the underlying causes of MS. One, entitled “Establishing a zebrafish model to study brain inflammation” and led by Dr. Anne Astier at the University of Edinburgh, received £36,622. The goal of this project is to investigate the role of CD46, a protein present in some immune T cells that move into the brain and attack the protective myelin sheath covering nerve fibers, causing inflammation. CD46 is known to be involved in this process, and the team hypothesized that this protein might not be properly activated in MS. Researchers will use zebrafish as an animal model to conduct their studies in a living organism. This project is especially important because some MS therapies are based on an interaction with the CD46 molecule and the blockade of immune cell migration into the brain. A better understanding of this process might help optimize treatment, making it more specific and reducing possible side effects.
Another project, titled “Does vitamin D control the movement of immune cells?,” also led by Dr. Astier, was awarded £98,904 and will focus on how immune T cells migrate into the brain and spinal cord, and the possibility that vitamin D may be involved in controlling such processes.

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