Centre of excellence to tackle MS
19 February 2021
Multiple sclerosis research is to be boosted by new funding for a research hub dedicated to tackling the disease.
A world-leading centre of excellence at the University is accelerating the search for treatments for MS, an incurable degenerative disease that affects the brain.
The MS Society Edinburgh Centre for MS Research will be co-led by Professor Anna Williams, Group Leader at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine. It will support attempts to develop life-changing treatments and provide training for the next generation of research scientists. The research is made possible by £1.85m of investment from the MS Society.
More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK. The condition affects the brain and spinal cord and can lead to vision, movement and cognitive problems. There are no treatment options to stop or significantly slow so-called progressive symptoms, which can lead to long-term disability and loss of independence in day-to-day tasks.
Much of the research at the centre will focus on understanding myelin – the protective layer surrounding our nerves that is affected in MS. Scientists will also create a drug discovery pipeline and screen drugs that could prevent neurodegeneration. They will also trial advanced brain imaging techniques in people with MS to test the effectiveness of drugs being tested in clinical trials.
Professor Anna Williams will co-lead the work at the MS Society Edinburgh Centre for MS Research alongside Professors Siddarthan Chandran, David Lyons and Adam Waldman
Professor Williams' lab at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine aims to understand how to repair the damaged myelin sheath, investigating why the repair mechanisms that could potentially prevent neurodegeneration are inefficient and ultimately fail.
It is very exciting to have the MS society UK Edinburgh Research Centre here at the University of Edinburgh co-directed by Profs Siddharthan Chandran, David Lyons, Adam Waldman and myself. We have three parts to our project plan – first to understand more about neurodegeneration in progressive MS, second to screen drugs to prevent neurodegeneration in a drug discovery pipeline and third to find better imaging measures of neurodegeneration in people with MS, so that it will be easier to see if these drugs work. We are looking forward to working with the MS Society UK and their other centre at the University of Cambridge to get treatments to people with progressive MS.
The MS Society Edinburgh Centre for MS Research will collaborate with a sister centre at the University of Cambridge.