MRC Technology, MS Society call for MS targets

MS Society to provide roughly $225,000 in funding for novel projects

Kelsey Kaustinen
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LONDON—MRC Technology, the exclusive technology transferagent for the United Kingdom's Medical Research Council, and the MS Society, acharitable organization that provides support and funding for research intomultiple sclerosis, have announced a joint 'call for targets.' The move is anattempt to accelerate the discovery and development of novel drugs capable oftreating multiple sclerosis symptoms or slowing, stopping or reversing theprogression of the disease. This undertaking will be supported by MRCTechnology's capabilities in translating biology into lead-stage therapeuticsand managing intellectual property, as well as the MS Society's years ofsupporting leading research efforts within the disease field.
"This new partnership with the MS Society builds on ouralready strong working relationship," Mike Johnson, director of CorporatePartnerships at MRC Technology, said in a press release regarding theinitiative. "By accessing MS targets discovered by MS researchers, we hope tobegin the journey towards new treatments for this condition."
Under the initiative, the MS Society will provide selectedprojects with early translational funds, to the tune of £150,000 (approximately$225,000) over two years in awards. Once completed, participating projects willbe assessed to determine their potential for advancement into small-molecule ortherapeutic antibody projects by MRC Technology.
"With an estimated 100,000 people living with MS in the UK,it is essential that we drive forward research aimed at improving the lives ofpeople with the condition. We're delighted to be working with MRC Technologyand capitalizing on their expertise in identifying targets that have thepotential to become new therapies," Dr. Susan Kohlhaas, head of BiomedicalResearch at the MS Society, said in a statement.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which thebody's immune system targets the myelin sheath, a protective covering thatencases nerve cells. When these sheaths are damaged, the brain and spinal cordlose the ability to properly communicate. Symptoms are varied, and can includemuscle weakness or spasms, problems with normal locomotion, tremors, doublevision and issues with attention span, judgment and memory loss. Prognosis forthe disease varies from case to case, and though multiple sclerosis is chronicand there is no cure, a patient stricken with the disease can expect nearly anormal lifespan. 
According to the National MS Society, approximately 2.1million people suffer from multiple sclerosis globally. An estimated 100,000people have multiple sclerosis in the United Kingdom, but since "the Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention does not require U.S. physicians to reportnew cases, and because symptoms can be completely invisible, the prevalence ofMS in the U.S. can only be estimated."
SOURCE: MRC Technology press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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