Brain Sciences


New study highlights actions for improving treatments in Progressive MS

10 December 2021

A new initiative led by Faculty Dean Professor Alan Thompson proposes a global research strategy to prioritise and coordinate efforts to develop treatments and improve quality of life for people living with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS).

X-ray scan of a spinal cord

Progressive MS affects over one million people worldwide. Despite progress in the development of anti-inflammatory therapies, the few approved treatments are only modestly effective.

The paper, published in Multiple Sclerosis Journal and co-authored by Professor Olga Ciccarelli (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology), highlights three areas that hold potential for accelerating progress and outlines the research approaches and critical steps required to tackle them.

The first area is understanding the mechanisms underlying the condition which will identify new treatment targets. The researchers also suggest that increasing data sharing and application of machine learning may support progress in this area, as will having disease descriptors that are based on biological activity, an effort already underway.

The second area is accelerating clinical trials. The researchers call for new trial designs that require fewer participants, as well as fluid and imaging biomarkers and clinical outcome measures that give early indication of treatment response.

The third area is improving the wellbeing of people affected by progressive MS by providing more focus on how to manage the physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms experienced by people living with the condition.

The authors emphasise the need for a collaborative, more coordinated approach to solving these challenges.

Professor Thompson said:

“The publication of this paper is an important step towards a more coordinated, global approach to tackling challenges and realising opportunities for improving quality of life for people living with progressive MS. The idea is to have global stakeholders engaged and rowing in the same direction to speed progress and dramatically increase the likelihood of success.”


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