(Louisville, KY) – The National Stem Cell Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society announced today they will partner on two research projects focused on myelin repair and regeneration. Myelin is the insulation around nerve fibers attacked by the immune system in MS, resulting in the inability of nerve cells to talk to each other and leading to progressive loss of function. Other demyelinating diseases that will benefit from this research include a number of rare genetic disorders that affect children and young adults.
The $1 million dollars in joint funding will be split between research projects at Stanford University in Stanford, California and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Paula Grisanti, Chair of the National Stem Cell Foundation said, “The National Stem Cell Foundation is delighted to partner with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in funding such promising research. It is our goal to fund collaborations that will accelerate the development and availability of stem cell therapies with the greatest potential for immediate impact. These research projects have the potential to restore function and improve the lives of patients and families in need worldwide.”
The research team at Stanford University, led by Marius Wernig, Ph.D., is devising ways to program skin cells to produce myelin-producing cells that can repair or replace damaged myelin. If the research is successful, the patient’s own skin cells could be used for transplantation, eliminating the risk of rejection.
The research at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, led by Regina Armstrong, Ph.D., is finding ways to induce myelin repair by increasing the number of cells in the brain that make myelin. Dr. Armstrong is working with a molecule called “Sonic Hedgehog,” known to multiply cell division and increase the number of myelin-producing cells.
“Both these projects have the potential to make promising headway in the quest to restore function in people with MS and other demyelinating disorders,” said Dr. Bruce Bebo, Executive Vice President of Research at the National MS Society. “This innovative partnership with the National Stem Cell Foundation will bring more resources to speed this priority area of research so that people with MS and other demyelinating disorders can live their best lives.”
About the National Stem Cell Foundation
The National Stem Cell Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting adult stem cell research and clinical trials with the potential to treat or cure conditions and diseases affecting people worldwide. NSCF supports collaboration and information sharing wherever possible and seeks to engage researchers, clinicians and industry in the effort to move promising research into therapies for people in need. For more information, visit www.nationalstemcellfoundation.org.
About The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. The National MS Society is committed to achieving a world free of MS. For more information, visit www.nationalMSsociety.org.