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Progress on Pathways to MS Cures

Pathways to Cures is the biggest, most collaborative MS research effort of our time with MS organizations and scientific leaders from across the globe agreeing that this is the way forward.

Research is key to accelerating cures for people with MS. And we have come a long way.

Research has shown us new and exciting pathways to stopping MS in its tracks, restoring function, and ending MS forever. Here are just a few examples:

Read about more Pathways Progress 

Progressive MS News & Progress

The International Progressive MS Alliance is an unprecedented global collaboration of MS organizations, researchers, health professionals, the pharmaceutical industry, companies, trusts, foundations, donors and people affected by progressive MS.

Read News and Progress from the Alliance

Timeline of MS Research Progress

Download a Timeline of MS Research Progress (.pdf).

Critical Milestones

1981 - First MRI pictures of a brain affected by MS are produced, revolutionizing MS diagnosis

1984 - First modern documentation of cognitive problems in MS

1988 - First demonstration, using MRI, of significant lesion activity in MS, even when the disease seems quiet

1993 - First disease-modifying therapy for relapsing MS approved

1996 - First proof that aerobic exercise improves physical and psychological well-being in MS

1999 - Society grantees first to isolate immature cells in the adult brain capable of developing into replacements for myelin-making cells destroyed by MS

2003 - Italian researchers transplant cells to enhance nerve tissue repair in mice with MS

2004 - Pivotal study by Society Fellow shows that Black Americans tend to have a more aggressive course of MS than whote Americans

2005, 2010, 2018 - “McDonald Criteria” for diagnosing MS updated by Society Task Force, speeding time to diagnosis for many

2007 - With support from Society to International MS Genetics Consortium, two genes are confirmed to be linked to MS risk; many more uncovered since

2007 - First large-scale trial of sex hormone estriol gets underway in women with MS, a result of the Society’s targeting of gender differences

2010 - First oral disease-modifying therapy approved for relapsing MS

2012 - Launch of Progressive MS Alliance to speed the development of therapies

2013 - Studies hint that exercise and rehabilitation can improve many functions and even help rewire the brain

2014 - First large, phase 2 clinical trials of myelin repair strategy for MS are launched

2015 - Results of phase 2 trial of anti-LINGO suggests it has potential as myelin repair strategy 

2015 - Society co-hosts international conference on cell-based therapies to forge next steps for cell therapy in MS

2015 - Society funding helps launch MS Microbiome Consortium to promote research on role of gut bacteria in MS progression and treatment

2015-16 - Two large-scale clinical trials break through long-standing barrier by showing benefit in primary progressive and secondary progressive MS

2016 - Additional positive results announces from two studies of bone marrow-derived stem cells (HSCT) in people with aggressive, relapsing MS

2016 - Society-funded International Consortium of MS Genetics identifies 200 genetic variations linked to MS, offering new leads to how genes and other factors that make people susceptible to developing MS

2016 - Society launches two new studies testing the ability of dietary approaches to treat MS symptoms and improve quality of life  

2016-17 - International Progressive MS Alliance awards three large-scale Collaborative Network Awards to promote solutions for people with progressive MS

2017 - First disease-modifying therapy for primary progressive MS is approved

2018 - First MS therapy specifically approved to treat pediatric MS

2018 - A Phase 2 trial showed that ibudilast could reduce brain atrophy in progressive MS. The trial was funded collaboratively by the National MS Society, the NINDS, its NeuroNext trials network, with support by MediciNova, the supplier of ibudilast 

2019 - Study sponsored by the National MS Society conducted by leading experts estimates that nearly 1 million adults are living with MS in the United States. This is more than twice the previously reported number

2020 - National MS Society releases recommendations for aHSCT-bone marrow transplant for MS

2020 - Society-supported Wellness Research Group publishes exercise and physical activity recommendations for ALL people with MS

2020 -  National MS Society, Consortium of MS Centers, and others establish the North American MS COVID-19 Clinical Database and contribute to global initiative to track COVID in people with MS

2021 - Study shows that stem cells derived from skin of people with MS make normal myelin, a plus for future nervous system repair strategies

2021 - Studies suggest changes in nervous system related to MS begin well before there are preceptible symptoms - offers promise for stopping the disease before it is diagnosed

2021 - Society-funded researchers discover subset of brain cells that fight inflammation with instructions from gut bacteria, opening new therapy approaches

2022 - The Pathways to MS Cures research roadmap is published and gains global endorsement

2022 - Society-funded researchers publish the strongest evidence yet that the common Epstein-Barr virus can trigger MS when other risk factors are present

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