The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society said today it has committed $18.8 million to support an expected 54 new MS research projects. The award raises to more than $50 million the amount the society said will be spent this year to support 380 new and ongoing studies worldwide.

The grant funding will focus on three society priorities: progressive MS, nervous system repair, and wellness and lifestyle. Funded projects, the society said, cover the entire research spectrum from basic studies through clinical trials.

Projects to receive funding are among “hundreds” of proposals evaluated each year by more than 130 scientists who volunteer their time, the society said.

“While we're driving research to stop MS, restore function and end the disease forever, at the same time we're identifying key interventions and solutions that can help people with MS live their best lives now,” Bruce Bebo, Ph.D., the society’s evp, research, said in a statement.

The society disclosed the individual projects it approved for funding without detailing the size of per-project grants. The projects fall into three categories, “Stop,” “Restore,” and “End,” reflecting the society’s three-prong approach to funding MS research.

Among examples of research reflecting all three prongs: 

  • Stop—William Culpepper, Ph.D., of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Baltimore, received a research grant from the National MS Society to compare comprehensive care vs. usual care in people with MS.
  • Restore—Robert Motl, Ph.D. of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won funding to follow up with a larger group of 280 people with MS on an earlier pilot study that showed promise in increasing exercise and decreasing symptoms in people with the disease through video chats.
  • End—Marc Horwitz, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia received a research grant to investigate the role of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in mice with the MS-like disease called EAE. His team earlier discovered that mice infected with an EBV-like virus and induced to develop EAE develop a more severe form of disease that is highly similar to MS.