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Edinburgh in global MS research effort

People who suffer from progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) could be helped by a major global research initiative.

Edinburgh researchers will join scientists from around the world in studying the condition in new ways in the hope of finding more effective treatments.

The project in Edinburgh, led by Dr Don Mahad, will examine the causes and effects of DNA changes in mitochondria - tiny energy factories found inside all cells - in people with progressive MS.

Researchers at the Centre for Neuroregeneration hope that insight into the genetic changes in the mitochondria of nerve cells will provide key information about how MS affects nerve cells.

It is also hoped that the work will pin-point new targets for treatments for progressive forms of MS.

Excellent alliance

The Edinburgh study is one of more than 20 projects to have been supported in nine countries, announced at an MS conference in Boston.

Together the projects - working under the banner of the Progressive MS Alliance - have received £17.5million in funding.

The funding has been awarded by the MS Society in the UK and MS charities in the USA, Canada, Italy and the MS International Federation, with additional support from MS charities in Spain and Denmark.

The disease

Progressive MS is the most common type of multiple sclerosis in the UK.

Patients with progressive MS experience a gradual worsening of symptoms with no remission.

There is no treatment that can slow or stop the accumulation of disability.

Across the world, more than a million people have progressive MS.

I am delighted to be part of this worldwide effort to find treatments for progressive MS, where there is such a huge unmet need. My work will focus on the problem of energy deficiency within nerve cells in progressive MS, which I hope will add to our understanding of the condition and aid in the development of treatments that can help in the fight against MS.

Dr Don MahadConsultant Neurologist at the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic and Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Centre for Neuroregeneration