Recent news stories have again brought sharp focus to an issue that can’t be brushed aside. No matter how many successes there have been in developing therapies for MS, many of them do not apply or don’t work well in people whose MS either started out without relapses (the primary-progressive form), or whose MS started with relapses, but eventually got worse and worse (the secondary-progressive form).
We are painfully aware of this issue. When the Society held a think tank focusing on progressive MS over a year ago, one of the first things participants discussed was the knowledge gap about progressive MS.
We need to fill this knowledge gap with more research that will get us to a place where we can stop MS progression in its tracks and fix what’s been damaged in the nervous system. Here are a few of those unknowns related to gaps in progressive MS:
What are the underlying mechanisms that influence why some people have very slow progression while others worsen quickly? Answers to these questions will help point to new therapeutic targets.
What factors influence the transition from relapsing MS to the secondary-progressive stage of MS? Understanding these factors should make it possible to interfere and stop progression.
What causes nerve degeneration in MS? Finding ways to stop the loss of nerve tissue, and to repair the loss, is crucial to restoring function.
How similar or different are progressive forms of MS? Determining this will help inform future research and clinical trials.
Progressive MS is front and center in the Society’s Strategic Response to MS, which guides the Society in its mission to end MS forever. One of the next steps from the think tank is happening this week in Washington, D.C.: the launch of an international consortium on progressive MS by leading MS societies around the world. The idea is that combining our forces will propel this effort forward much faster than if we each try to tackle it alone.
In coming weeks, I’d like to share with you how the Society, our collaborators and others are working together to advance treatments and understanding of progressive MS. This includes clinical trials now underway in progressive MS; the promise of stem cells; progress in nervous system repair; and new insights into what’s causing progression. In the meantime, I’d like to point out a few resources on our website that may be helpful.
Click here to view video related to progressive MS.
View the Webcast “Research to Improve Quality of Life” with moderator Tracey Kimball and panelists Dr. Dennis Bourdette, Dr. Robert Motl, and Dr. Nicholas LaRocca.