EMD Serono Inc., a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, announced the recipients of the second annual Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation (GMSI) at the 2014 Joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS Meeting of the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ACTRIMS) and European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ECTRIMS), taking place September 10-13, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Five recipients hailing from France, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom (UK), will share a total of EUR1 million to support their translational research projects.
Dr. Bruno Stankoff, professor of Neurology from Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, received a grant to identify a new biomarker that can be imaged to determine the level of damage of neurons at the early phase of either relapsing or primary progressive MS.
Drs. Maria Domercq and Carlos Matute, researchers at Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience and Department of Neurosciences at Universidad del Pais Vasco in Spain, received a grant to investigate whether immune cells of the central nervous system known as microglia may indirectly influence the repair of myelin— the insulating outer layer of neurons. The results of these investigations could support the identification of a new MS treatment option based on the modulation of microglia.
Dr. Robert Axtell, assistant member at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, received a grant to examine the role of inflammation-inducing cell signaling molecules called BAFF and APRIL in two different animal models of neuro-inflammation, one that mimics MS and another that mimics neuromyelitis optica. The group will test whether inhibition of BAFF and APRIL improves or worsens disease in these two animal models.
Dr. Margarita Dominguez-Villar, an associate research scientist in the Department of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine received a grant to examine whether individuals with MS have an altered immune system that interferes with the function of regulatory T cells, which normally help dampen the immune response. The results could potentially help in the design of new therapeutic interventions that could restore their ability to block inflammation in patients with MS.
Dr. Su Metcalfe, a senior research associate at the John van Geest Center for Brain Repair at the University of Cambridge (UK), received a grant to investigate targeted nanotechnology as a means of delivering therapeutic agents to the brain to reduce inflammatory auto-immunity and to promote repair of myelin in MS.
The awards symposium was chaired by David Bates, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), and a member of the GMSI Scientific Committee.
“At Merck Serono, we believe that medical research to advance improved care for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis is a very worthy undertaking and deserves our support. We are thrilled to invest in the Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation to further this cause,” said Steven Hildemann, chief medical officer, and head of global medical affairs and global drug safety at Merck Serono. “The second-year recipients of the GMSI will help us to continue accelerating exceptional science that demonstrates the potential to generate an innovative medicine or a high-value solution for people living with multiple sclerosis.”
The GMSI was launched in October 2012 at the 28th ECTRIMS Congress with the aim of improving the understanding of MS for the ultimate benefit of those living with the disease. In 2013, more than 100 proposals were received from around the globe describing promising translational research projects, and four grant awards were shared among researchers from the United States and Germany. To date, these researchers have utilized this support to continue making important progress in the field, including using the GMSI award to refine imaging procedures, study neural processing times, uncover features of MS immune cells and examine gene expression patterns specific to MS.
The third call for proposals for the 2015 GMSI was made by Merck Serono at today’s Satellite Symposium. More information about the GMSI can be found online. (http://www2.grantformultiplesclerosisinnovation.org/EMDSerono/index.html)
Date: September 12, 2014
Source: EMD Serono