• Wed. Jan 19th, 2022

Multiple Sclerosis, ‘Research Challenge Awards’ to 4 Italians

Byeditorial

Jun 4, 2021

The International Progressive Ms Alliance (Pmsa) – a worldwide collaboration focused on research for the progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (Sm), of which the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association (Aism) with its Foundation (Fism) is among the founders and main financiers – awarded the ‘Research Challenge Awards’ for a total investment of 1 million 425 thousand euros. Out of 19 innovative studies funded, 4 are by Italian researchers already funded by FISM. The 19 groups of researchers from the 13 countries that participated in the global call will each receive funding of up to 75 thousand euros for one year. The announcement was made on the occasion of the Information Week on Multiple Sclerosis – running until June 6 – during the webcast dedicated to research on Sm visible on the channels of the site and on the social networks of Aism, promoter of the event. The 19 ‘Research Challenge Awards’ have been selected among the best projects – reports a note – to improve understanding of the mechanisms that drive the progression of the disease, an area in which today the lack of adequate knowledge is hindering the development of treatments. The goal is to identify new therapeutic targets that lead to treatments that can slow or stop the progression of disability in multiple sclerosis. Funded projects will focus on several areas, including the identification of novel mechanisms underlying axonal loss in progressive MS and the molecular pathways that promote myelin neuroprotection and repair. Funding will begin by the end of the year and the first results are expected in 2022. Among the 19 researchers, Italians Massimiliano Calabrese of the University of Verona stands out with his study to detect the immunological basis of neurodegeneration and the activation of microglia in patients. with Sm in the initial phase and Francesco Bifari of the University of Milan for the study of cell metabolism towards a potential new therapy for progressive multiple sclerosis. Two other researchers are: Martina Absinta of John Hopkins University (USA) for her study on the risk genes associated with inflammation leading to the progression of SM and the 2017 Alessandro Didonna Best Poster Award of the University of California, San Francisco, for his study on new biomarkers of neurodegeneration. “I am honored that the scientific committee of the Progressive Ms Alliance wanted to include me in this group of researchers that I believe, each in their own way, truly extraordinary. My whole group and I will give as always the maximum to be able to put another important piece in the fight against this terrible disease “, comments Massimiliano Calabrese of the Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement, Ao Universitaria of Verona.” Since 2014, when we won the first call for the Progressive Ms Alliance, we have been working to early identification and treatment of patients at risk of rapid disease progression we have identified some ‘malignant’ molecules which, at high concentrations, characterize patients at high risk of an unfavorable evolution of the disease. Now is the time to understand the immunological mechanisms underlying the early progression of disability. This will allow us not only to identify the most serious patients early – he explains – but also to develop the best therapeutic approach for each of them, thus creating a truly personalized medicine “.” I thank the International Progressive MS Alliance for having me given the unique possibility of studying the pathogenetic mechanisms of progressive MS from a completely new point of view. With this project we use cutting-edge methodologies in the field of metabolomics, the study of energy and cellular metabolism to characterize and identify new pharmacological targets for treatment of progressive SM “, declares Francesco Bifari of the Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine of the University of Milan. “In particular – he adds – it is already widely demonstrated that modulating cellular metabolism is a new way capable of healing the disease phenotype of both neural and immune cells. With this project we want to understand how specific alterations of the cellular metabolism occurring in progressive MS “. Aism with its Fism Foundation – the note recalls – is one of the founders and promoters of the ‘International Alliance for progressive MS’ and contributes to an investment of 53 million euros by 2025. Since the global call was launched, applications have come from all over the world, selected by an international panel of experts, including people with SM. “A call that we believe is important for the understanding of progressive multiple sclerosis. In the selection of candidates, priority was given to the most innovative proposals, to collaborations, to the exploration of new paths rather than to already existing hypotheses. At the moment, an Alliance network is already at work coordinated by Italian researchers to study molecules that can open new perspectives to repair the damage to the nervous system. But there is still a long way to go and once again Italian research will make its contribution ”, declared Mario Alberto Battaglia, president of FISM. “These awards represent a major step forward in progressive MS research and add to the Alliance’s other previous investments. We are very encouraged by the high quality and diversity of the funded projects, “said Alan Thompson, chair of the Alliance’s scientific committee.” The positive results of these studies will greatly accelerate the development of new treatments for people with progressive MS. “

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