Record funding for MS research brings new treatments closer
Multiple sclerosis (MS) research in Australia received a major boost this week with new funding commitments from MS Western Australia and MS South Australia/Northern Territory taking the amount raised for research in 2020 to around$10.5million, a record amount in a calendar year.
Dr. Julia Morahan, Head of Research at MS Research Australia, said the funding will help bring new treatments closer to reality with more money to be invested in areas such as enhancing the brain’s defenses against MS as well as myelin repair, the holy grail of MS research.
“MS results from the loss of myelin, the insulating sheath around nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord,” Dr. Morahan said.
“Protecting against or repairing this myelin damage is the holy grail of MS research, as treatments that promote repair will restore function that has been lost for people with progressive forms of the disease and provide therapeutic options for them,” Dr. Morahan said.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important these funding commitments are to accelerating the world-leading work of Australia’s research community to identify new treatments for people who live with MS each and every day.”
Renowned MS researcher and neurologist, Professor Bruce Taylor from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research Tasmania, said funding certainty was critical to maintaining momentum in MS research.
“Long term funding enables our senior MS researchers to plan and execute their big picture strategic research programs, with the confidence of knowing their funding is secured,” Professor Taylor said.
“This is critical at present to maintain momentum in MS research and prevent loss of MS researchers from the field, with the University sector under huge financial pressure and international funding opportunities significantly diminished due to COVID-19.”
“Stability of longer-term funding also enables senior researchers to take on the training of the next generation of best-and-brightest researchers in MS.”
MS Australia President, Associate Professor Des Graham, said the additional funding gave the research community a great platform for the critical work they do in seeking a cure for MS and improving treatment options.
“In an incredibly competitive environment for not-for-profits where funding has been made even tougher due to the impacts of COVID-19, this is an incredibly significant commitment from our state and territory organizations in Western Australia and South Australia/Northern Territory,” Associate Professor Graham said.
“As an organization, we remain committed to all aspects of the MS Strategic Roadmaps, including our goal of increasing funding to MS research to record levels and ensuring the MS research community has certainty regarding their research and career path.”
As well as accelerating research into myelin repair, the funding will be used to:
- Bring researchers and clinicians together for further Paired Fellowship opportunities. This will speed up the translation of research to the clinic and delivery of new MS treatments;
- Fully fund Senior Research Fellowships and research grant applications, freeing up researchers to do more research and achieve their goals faster. This includes the biomedical portfolio as well as social and applied research to help people with MS manage their condition; and
- Building a digital portal for people with MS so they can better understand, track, and manage their own MS, and to use this knowledge for the wider MS research effort.
So far in 2020, the state and territory MS organizations have raised almost $4million for research with MSWA contributing $2.1 million, MS South Australia/Northern Territory donating $725,000 and MS, the combined entity for NSW, ACT, Victoria, and Tasmania, providing $1.1 million. An additional $6.6 million was raised by everyday Australians participating in the community fundraising event, The May 50K.
Associate Professor Graham said he was incredibly grateful for the efforts of everyone who had contributed to the record fundraising efforts to support MS research.
“As MS Australia President and someone who lives with MS every day, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our state and territory MS organizations; the MS Australia Board; our employees; and, most of all, everyday Australians for their contributions towards raising this funding for MS research,” he said.
“I’m confident their collective funding efforts will significantly enhance research outcomes in Australia and shorten the timeframes for identifying ground-breaking MS treatments.”