Innovative Online Community for Researchers Aims to Advance Scientific Collaboration and Research toward a Cure for MS
WALTHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis (ACP) and the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND) today announced the launch of the Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum (MSDF) (http://www.msdiscovery.org), a new, interactive virtual community and information portal that connects and educates investigators who study MS and other demyelinating disorders of the central nervous system, including transverse myelitis, neuromyelitis optica, and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.
“Many important advances have been made in recent years toward bringing new therapies to people with MS, but we still have a long way to go before we can celebrate a cure for the disease,” said Robert McBurney, president and chief executive officer of ACP. “The Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum will shorten that path by creating an open research environment that fosters the generation and exchange of novel ideas about the causes, mechanisms, and potential cures for MS. We anticipate that the site will catalyze connections across disciplines that help accelerate us toward a cure.”
The Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum provides a neutral venue where members of the MS research community can:
- Learn about cutting-edge findings and their significance through original articles by top-flight science writers;
- Participate in peer-hosted discussion forums and webinars;
- Access professional and research resources such as a custom drug-pipeline database and the MSGene database of MS genetic association studies;
- Share and receive feedback from other researchers on study findings and key learnings; and
- Collaborate with researchers from other organizations on opportunities for translational research.
“MS researchers face a daunting task as they strive to keep up with discoveries in their own area of expertise, never mind other disciplines,” said MSDF scientific adviser Richard M. Ransohoff, director of the Neuroinflammation Research Center and staff neurologist at the Mellen Center for MS Treatment and Research, both at the Cleveland Clinic. “The sheer scope of MS research, from immunology to neuroscience to genetics to epidemiology to imaging, entails more raw literature than anyone can absorb. Furthermore, many research communities are siloed and don’t effectively communicate to others. Through the Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum, this data sharing becomes easier. Information about new findings and resources, accessible on a single site, will spur innovative ideas and speed progress. Knowledge sharing at scientific conferences can now continue online and will engage the broader community, allowing MS researchers to untangle the causes of this often-devastating illness and develop therapeutic compounds and strategies.”
“Scientific social media are emerging as a new way to help enhance the efficiency of research and generate new approaches to medical challenges,” said Tim Clark, director of Informatics at the Mass General Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND). “Our joint effort with ACP to create the Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum has provided a platform that will build knowledge and inspire new and fruitful scientific collaborations.”
About the Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum
The Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum is a joint project of the Accelerated Cure Project for MS (ACP), which creates the site’s content; the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND), which has developed and supports the site’s platform; and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, which curates MSGene. The Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum is a free resource supported by a generous grant from its founding donor, EMD Serono. The Forum operates completely independently of its funders, who have no influence over the site's content or operations. The site, which provides a neutral forum for discussion and information exchange, is guided by a distinguished scientific advisory board from various institutions within the MS research community.
For more information about the site and to register as a member of the MSDF, please visit www.msdiscovery.org.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system that often results in severe disability including the inability to walk, blindness, cognitive dysfunction, extreme fatigue, and other serious symptoms. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the US and two million individuals worldwide. The disorder occurs twice as often in women as in men. What causes MS is undetermined and no cure has yet been developed.
About Accelerated Cure Project for MS (ACP)
Accelerated Cure Project for MS (ACP) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate efforts toward a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS) by rapidly advancing research that determines its causes and mechanisms. We provide biomedical researchers with resources that catalyze open scientific collaboration and enable them to explore their novel research ideas rapidly and cost-efficiently. ACP’s strategic initiatives include the Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum and the ACP Repository, a large-scale collection of highly-characterized biosamples available to scientists at any organization conducting research that contributes to our mission. All results generated through analysis of Repository samples and data are contributed back to the ACP Repository Database, resulting in an increasingly valuable and comprehensive information resource that can be analyzed to reveal new insights about MS. To date, ACP has enrolled almost 3,000 participants into the Repository through a network of 10 MS clinical centers across the United States. The samples provided by people with MS and related disorders have supported more than 60 research studies worldwide and generated more than 150 million returned data points.
About Massachusetts General Hospital and the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND)
Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $750 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, and transplantation.
MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease was founded in 2001 with a mission to translate laboratory discoveries into prevention, treatment and cures for Alzheimer’s, ALS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Driven by a sense of urgency due to our nation’s burgeoning aging population, MIND seeks to accelerate therapies that lessen the devastating toll of disease on patients and families.
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