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£1.85m will fund multiple sclerosis centre of excellence in Cambridge

A charity has awarded £1.85million to fund a multiple sclerosis research ‘centre of excellence’ in Cambridge.

The MS Society says the major grant will allow Cambridge scientists to find new treatments, faster, for tens of thousands of people living with progressive forms of MS in the UK, who currently have nothing to stop disability progression.

Multiple sclerosis causes myelin damage
Multiple sclerosis causes myelin damage

The MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair will build on a legacy of pioneering research on the impact of ageing on MS, putting in place a system to study remyelination in people with MS of all ages, including children. Professor Alasdair Coles and Dr Thora Karadottir will co-lead work at the centre.

Dr Karadottir said: “Few neurological conditions have seen anything like the progress in treatments we’ve had in MS, and Cambridge researchers have made a huge contribution to that change. But there are still tens of thousands of people who don’t have anything to help their condition, and that’s why continued research like ours is so vital.

“We are excited to build on the Cambridge centre’s strong foundations in developing new treatments for people with MS, and bring in what we believe will be a new era for MS treatment.

“Thanks to this generous donation, we can make discoveries that will benefit people living with MS worldwide – including the myelin repair therapies that are still so desperately needed.”

Multiple sclerosis affects more than 130,000 people in the UK and causes nerve damage which makes it harder for sufferers to do everyday things, like walk, talk, eat and think.

Thanks to research, there are now more than a dozen licensed treatments for people with relapsing forms of MS.

These treatments are able to target rogue immune activity, and reduce the damage to myelin – the protective coating that surrounds our nerves, which is damaged in MS. The research team hopes to identify how our capacity for remyelination changes with age, and work out how this could be used to develop new myelin repair drugs.

Dr Emma Gray, assistant director of research at the MS Society, said: “Today, we can see a future where nobody needs to worry about their MS getting worse – and our top priority is finding treatments that slow or stop MS for everyone.”

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