More than 2.3 million people worldwide live with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease of the brain and spinal cord that can be debilitating. While most people with MS experience periods of relapse and remission, nearly 15 percent of people with the disease have a progressive form. Steadily worsening over time, progressive MS provides little respite from symptoms, which can range from fatigue and double vision to numbness in the limbs and unsteady balance.
Francisco Quintana, PhD, a principal investigator within the Department of Neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is pursuing a large-scale project to evaluate drugs for progressive MS, which does not respond well to current treatment options. Recently, the International Progressive MS Alliance took notice of Quintana and his team of researchers from the United States, Canada, and Israel, and awarded a $4.7 million grant to advance key aspects of the research.
Quintana’s team recently determined the biological pathways that control central nervous system inflammation and found that manipulation of the pathways with genetic approaches or small molecules can alter disease progression—promising discoveries with the potential to lead to innovative new treatments. The grant supports the team’s efforts to identify drug candidates for evaluation within the next four years for patients with progressive MS.
“We’re deeply honored by this award from the International Progressive MS Alliance,” says Quintana, a faculty member in the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at BWH. “Our team depends on private funding to move projects like this forward. We’re driven to speed our findings from the lab into clinical trials and new treatments for patients with progressive MS.”