Dr Emma Gray
Assistant Director of Research, MS Society
In the space of a year, the world has changed dramatically, but while coronavirus may have slowed down our progress, it won’t stop us stopping MS.
Over 130,000 people live with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the UK. It damages nerves in your brain and makes it harder to do everyday things like walk, talk, eat and think. It can be relentless, painful, and disabling.
Today there are over a dozen licensed treatments for people with the relapsing form of MS, and some emerging for early active progressive MS – but there is nothing to stop you becoming more disabled as your condition advances. Thankfully, decades of research have got us to a critical point, and we can finally see a future where no-one needs to worry about their MS getting worse.
The impact of COVID-19 on MS research
This year coronavirus affected many of the vital research projects we fund. Social distancing meant laboratories had to close, face-to-face visits in most studies were paused, and some researchers even seconded to help support the frontline of the NHS. But with so much at stake, our dedicated team did everything we can to keep research going. Despite countless challenges, we still believe we can stop MS.
Despite countless challenges, we still believe we can stop MS.
Finding treatments for everyone with MS
Over the past 25 years we’ve made huge progress in finding treatments for MS. We now have a range of treatments that target the immune system, to make it less likely to attack the protective myelin coating around nerves. But to truly stop MS, we also need treatments that protect nerves from damage and repair lost myelin.
Our bodies have the amazing natural ability to repair myelin, but this is less effective in MS. Researchers are focused on understanding more about why this happens and finding ways to kick-start this natural process. We have found some potential treatments that could do just this, and we ‘re now testing them in clinical trials.
Researchers are also using their knowledge to design new ways to keep nerves alive and healthy. These include clearing up debris left over from myelin attacks, making sure nerves have the energy they need, and improving transport of important molecules in the nerves.
With trials of both myelin repair and neuroprotective treatments now in progress, we are inching ever closer to finding new treatments and we can see a future where no one needs to worry about their MS getting worse.
This life-changing research has only been made possible with the help of our generous supporters. Now, we have never been closer to stopping MS. With the discoveries being made today, treatments that slow or stop disability progression tomorrow are a very real prospect. Our vision for a world free from the effects of MS is truly within our grasp and, with your help, we can make it a reality.