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‘More than hope. Progress’ – Progressive MS Alliance

Celebrating how the first international collaboration on progressive MS is bringing us closer to ending progressive MS.

There are two types of progressive MS: primary and secondary.

The majority of people with relapsing-remitting MS – the most common form of MS – will eventually develop progressive MS. When this happens, it’s diagnosed as secondary progressive MS. However, a smaller number of people are diagnosed with progressive MS from the outset. This is described as primary progressive MS.

Whilst primary progressive MS involves the steady progression of MS symptoms from the start, secondary progressive MS involves a more gradual progression of symptoms, which can involve slight remissions and plateaus.

The global MS community has seen dramatic progress in the understanding and treatment of relapsing remitting MS over the years. However, advances in research into potential treatments for progressive MS have been more limited.

International Progressive MS Alliance

In 2012, six MS organisations from across the world joined together to form the first ever global collaboration on progressive MS: the International Progressive MS Alliance. Those founding members – the MS societies of Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, US and the MS International Federation – made a joint commitment to speed up the development of treatments for progressive MS.

Since 2012, the Alliance has grown enormously. It now has 17 member organisations, plus individual and foundation members. It also has involvement from a wide range of researchers, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, and, crucially, people with progressive MS.

Its member organisations share years of experience in MS research and have funded significant developments in disease-modifying therapies, research and treatments for symptoms of MS.

The Alliance aims to raise the profile of progressive MS, make progressive MS a global research priority, boost resources and global funding capacity for progressive MS research and mobilise the global MS community to drive progress in research and, ultimately, end progressive MS.


In 2014, the Alliance launched the Challenge Awards to encourage scientific research into progressive MS. This pioneering research programme continues to innovate research that improves understanding of progressive MS.

Since 2015, the Alliance has also stimulated research collaboration and innovation through its collaborative network awards. This unique, multinational project promotes long-term, international collaborations between research institutions that can help to speed up new treatments and develop new trials.

These international research collaborations include researchers from nine countries and are focused on drug discovery, using MRI technology to effectively monitor disease progression in early clinical trials and myelin repair. These projects are all in progress and the Alliance aims to have results by the end of 2020 or early in 2021.

Prof. Alan Thompson, Chair of the Alliance’s Scientific Steering Committee, said, “the quality, breadth, innovation and focus of these awards has the potential to bring forth some of the most important and potentially transformative work in the area of progressive MS.”

For more information, please visit the Progressive MS Alliance website.

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