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$3.4 million directed to key MS study

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    $3.4 million directed to key MS study

    I know that this is old news from nearly two years ago but I wanted to post it here to show what the National Multiple Sclerosis Society does, when it funds research. In 2005, they invested in ways to develop human embryonic stem cells for treating multiple sclerosis. Please that the there are about the same number of people in the United States with multiple sclerosis as there are people with spinal cord injury. Yet, they are able to raise more and invest more money in research, and lobby more effectively for research funding that we can in spinal cord injury. How and why?
    $3.4 million directed to key MS study

    (Posted Aug. 10, 2005)

    by Terry Devitt

    In an effort to develop new techniques to repair and protect the nervous system in multiple sclerosis patients, including the use of human stem cells, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has awarded $3.4 million to a team of UW-Madison scientists.

    The group, led by School of Veterinary Medicine professor Ian D. Duncan, is developing cell transplant techniques that may one day be used to repair the damaged myelin - the critical sheathing of nervous system fibers - characteristic of the debilitating and unpredictable disease.

    "It's all about myelin repair and protecting nerve fibers," says Duncan, an international authority on myelin and myelin-related diseases. "The goal is to translate bench research into clinical application."

    Multiple sclerosis - which affects an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide, 400,000 people in the United States and 10,000 in Wisconsin - involves a misdirected attack by the immune system on myelin, the nerve fiber coating that speeds the signals of the central nervous system. Multiple sclerosis also destroys the underlying nerve fiber, causing symptoms such as numbness, blindness, cognitive dysfunction and paralysis.

    An important part of the Wisconsin project, according to Duncan, will be efforts to direct human stem cells to become myelinating cells that could be used in transplants to repair the nervous system lesions characteristic of multiple sclerosis.

    The project, Duncan adds, will also expand studies of the antibiotic minocycline, a drug that has shown potential for protecting nerve fibers and mitigating the debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Duncan's lab has already shown that the drug has anti-inflammatory properties in an animal model of MS.

    The Wisconsin team, Duncan says, plans to deploy powerful, state-of-the-art imaging technologies, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET), to image lesions and how they respond to treatment.

    The work to be funded by the new grant, part of a five-year, $30 million initiative by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is expected to lay the groundwork for clinical trials by refining cell transplant methods and the ability to image myelin and nerve fiber damage and cell repair at work. The new initiative, known as "Promise 2010," includes a pledge of $2 million in support from the Wisconsin chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

    "We're tremendously gratified by this level of support," Duncan said. "It's a step, we think, toward major clinical advances."

    "This is a new chapter in MS research and should serve as a springboard for translating basic lab findings into important new treatments for people with MS," says John R. Richert, vice president of research and clinical programs for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

    In addition to Duncan, UW-Madison team members include John O. Fleming, a professor of medical microbiology and neurology; Aaron Field, a professor of neurology and radiology; Su-Chun Zhang, a professor of anatomy and neurology; Andrew L. Alexander, a professor of medical physics and psychiatry; P. Charles Garell, a professor of neurological surgery; James E. Holden, a professor of medical physics and radiology; Mary Elizabeth Meyerand, a professor of medical physics and neurology; Thomas Cook, a senior scientist in biostatistics; Zsuzsa Fabry, a professor of pathology; Alex Converse, an assistant scientist at the Waisman Center; and Maria Nikodemova, an assistant scientist in medical sciences.

    I've got a couple thoughts on the 'why' aspect of MS being able to generate more funds than SCI. First is that MS affects more women than men. It appears to me that women's issues tend to get more press and wider response than issues affecting men or a balanced percentage of men and women. Second is that MS is a condition which is not related to a one time accident/incident which could be perceived as having been avoidable.

    The 'how' aspect in my opinion is very much related to MS being more of an issue affecting women. Please don't take this the wrong way but I believe that women are somewhat better at organizing awareness and fundraising campaigns. Additionally,when the issue affects more women than men the response tends to be greater for building the organization and contributing to the cause.

    We can take lessons from many highly visible efforts such as heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, and AIDS. Success at raising funds comes from combining forces and resources. Having a message that people can understand, simplified explanations of how the cures are going to be accomplished, and effective advertising are all a part of having a successful campaign.

    It has been discussed so many times it almost goes without saying that the loss of Christopher Reeves was a huge blow to efforts at curing SCI. Within him was a figurehead, a proponent for the cure, and a spokesperson. He was highly regarded and even radiated the Superman personna in his quest for the cure for SCI. The question is, can the SCI community either build on that past success or find a different approach to build the momentum again with regard to fundraising and raising awareness.
    Injured 7-22-06, T-11 T-12 complete. [Holds up cardboard sign] "Will work for returns."
    2010 SCINet Clinical Trial Support Squad Member
    Please join me and donate a dollar a day at and copy and paste this message to the bottom of your signature.


      Do you guys have the Supercities Walk for MS in the States? Forgive me if it's a dumb question ... but they hold one day per year aside for pledged people to walk, wheel, run, bicycle, roller-blade 5, 10 or 20kms to raise money.

      It's a great family day with tons of food, entertainment and prizes .. I did it for about four years before I gave up on it (I wanted to support spinal cord injury more directly).

      We have Rick Hansen's Man in Motion day which raised approximately $2,000,000 across Canada for the past two years (which is actually quite pathetic). All the major 'causes' hold some sort of fun run.

      Too bad the Christopher Reeve thing wasn't nationwide - like a fun run day or something? Terry Fox is global - I'd like to see something similar globally with spinal cord injury ... but how to organize!
      Last edited by lynnifer; 4 Oct 2007, 11:11 PM.
      Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

      T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12


        Who Gets MS?

        Approximately 400,000 individuals have been diagnosed with MS in the United States and as many as two and a half million worldwide, with an estimated 10,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States annually. Most people with MS experience their first symptoms and are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 50.

        The distribution of this disease is not totally random. On average, women are three times as likely than men to develop MS. Additionally, the occurrence of this disorder is positively correlated with latitude. People living beyond the 40-degree mark north or south of the equator are far more likely to develop MS than those living in the warmer climates near the equator. This is especially true for people in North America, Europe, and southern Australia, while Asia continues to have a low incidence of MS. More prevalent among those of northern European or Scandinavian ancestry, Caucasians are far more likely than those of African heritage to develop this disease.

        More at MSAA here;
        Aside of that. One has to forget about Gates, Buffets and buddy whose that name as for SCI cures. One has to put our own names in front when it comes to funding for SCI research. That’s how it is, like it or not.


          The 22nd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner raised $6 Million this year. How is the money being spent?


            It helps to have Montel Williams out there 5 days a week and his message is clear: this is a disease, it needs a cure, almost everyone knows someone effected by it, the patients tend to be young and they can do much of the organizing themselves. He also brings up things like medical marajuana, stem cell use, that the A, B, C, R drugs are not good enough and he does it sanely, with experts to back him up. And he doesn't have a problem with the police picking him up for his choice of pain meds. He considers this a doctor patient problem and if he were arrested for his occasional tokes the police would look like idiots.

            There's a lot of the family fund raising in MS, ALS and ALD. And very little infighting about cure, care and community issues.

            Chas.......MP probably will use it for salaries for 200 scientists and overhead.
            Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

            Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.


              Yes, strange it is; MS, ALS, Huntington’s etc. is a disease but SCI is not. Although all the conditions damages axons and neurons.


                There is a group called NARCOMS that works with M/S research and often reports on SCI research. I think they have a coordinated effort.