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The MSA Coalition has invested $250,000 in five new research projects aimed at improving the lives of those with multiple system atrophy.

McLean, VA – September 1, 2020: The Multiple System Atrophy Coalition, the leading nonprofit funder of global MSA research, today announced the latest recipients of their annual research grants awarded for the scientific study of the devastating neurodegenerative disorder multiple system atrophy (MSA). The five selected projects, awarded a total of $250,000, exemplify the MSA Coalition’s established research mission to facilitate discovery of the underlying cause, to enable early-stage laboratory development of candidate drugs and to initiate patient-centered clinical studies. Since 2013, the MSA Coalition has invested over $2 million in MSA research represented by more than 40 MSA projects at 30 research centers in ten countries and continues its seven-year history of alignment with the vision of the Global MSA Research Roadmap established in 2014.

“We are very pleased to announce the latest MSA research grant recipients, and we are encouraged by the rapid growth and global recognition of the MSA Coalition’s research grant program,” said Cyndi Roemer, Chair, the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition. We are excited to continue to collaborate with MSA Trust (UK) as we jointly support two projects. As an outcome of our first Global MSA Advocacy meeting in 2018 and some subsequent discussions, we look forward to expanded collaborations with our charity partners around the world as we continue this critical work. It’s so important, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, that we work together to continue to push MSA research forward. We are ever mindful of the urgent needs of our global MSA community of patients and families. Please know the MSA Coalition continues to be here for you, you are not forgotten.”

“This year we are supporting two labs focused on exploring the elusive underlying cause of MSA, two projects evaluating FDA approved drugs as possible MSA therapies, as well as a clinical study of a device to control orthostatic hypotension,” stated Larry Kellerman, Board of Directors and Research Committee co-chair. “All of these projects have great potential to benefit patients in the near future. As we strive to fund the most impactful MSA research we are ever mindful of the urgency of our mission.”

The 2020 MSA Coalition funded research projects and award winning investigators are as follows:

Discovering the Underlying Cause (Pathogenesis):

  • Exosomal alpha-synuclein and TPPP/p25α: Potential culprits in MSA pathogenesis?”: Maria Xilouri (Academy of Athens, Greece)
  • The role of repeat expansions in Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA)”: John Hardy (University College of London, UK) and Viorica Chelban (University College of London, UK)

Developing Candidate Drugs (Preclinical):

  • “Testing MPH as a novel neuroprotective therapy in pre-clinical models of Multiple System Atrophy”: Alessio DiFonzo (University of Milan, Italy) and Arianna Belluci (University of Brescia, Italy)
  • “Myeloid cell depletion as therapeutic target in multiple system atrophy”: Juergen Winkler (University Hospital Erlangen, Germany) and Johannes Schlachetzki (UC San Diego, USA)

Initiating Patient-Centered Studies (Clinical):

  • “Abdominal Binders to treat Orthostatic Hypotension in Multiple System Atrophy”: Gregor Wenning (Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria), Alessandra Fanciulli (Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria) and Cecilia Raccagni (Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria)

“Our annual call for multiple system atrophy research grant proposals continues to provide the MSA Coalition with a robust pool of grant funding opportunities which are received through a competitive application process and selected based on rigorous peer-review by a panel of scientific experts, said Dr. Phillip Low. “As an originating member of the MSA Coalition Scientific Advisory Board, it is exciting to see this charity surpass $2 million in research funding. The MSA Coalition’s pioneering efforts to mobilize the MSA community as advocates and fundraisers has truly energized the MSA research community and has led to a record number of excellent MSA research projects being performed and published.”

We are so inspired by amazing patient advocates who dream of a better future for all affected by MSA,” said Pam Bower, Board of Directors and Research Committee co-chair. As panelists leading the Advocacy Working group at the Global MSA Research Roadmap meeting in 2014, MSA Coalition representatives voiced this shared dream, calling on the global research community to find a cure for multiple system atrophy! Thanks to the work of our volunteers, donors and supporters, labs around the world are paying more attention to MSA, and every research grant funded brings us closer to realizing this dream. Until then, our work is not over, our search for the very best ideas in MSA research will begin again this fall with the announcement of our next call for grant proposals.

The Multiple System Atrophy Coalition first established a dedicated MSA research fund in 2011 and recruited a world renowned Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) made up of leading MSA scientists and clinicians. In 2013, the organization launched its MSA Research Grant Program with the funding of five seed grants. The goal of the MSA Research Grant Program is to identify and fund MSA research projects that have potential to uncover the cause, discover disease modifying treatments and hopefully a cure. To best accomplish its research goals, the MSA Coalition participated in the 2014 Global MSA Research Roadmap Meeting and immediately aligned its research program with the conference guidelines. By following the research roadmap and using a rigorous peer review process, the SAB ensures that the MSA Coalition is funding the most promising research projects.

In addition to encouraging and funding MSA research, the MSA Coalition is North America’s trusted provider of much needed support and education programs including a toll-free support hotline (1-866-737-5999), educational materials, the world’s largest annual MSA patient and family conference (live-streamed on the web since 2014 for virtual attendees), major sponsor of medical education for healthcare professionals, provider of travel grants for early career investigators, founder of the Global MSA Advocacy Consortium, as well as a leader and organizer of important awareness initiatives.

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