Leading science, pioneering therapies

£2m funding for Edinburgh Centre for MS Research

27 April 2015

The MS Society today announced it is investing a further £2 million into a world-class MS research hub known as the Edinburgh Centre for MS Research.

The funding will support a team of approximately 15 world-leading researchers at the University of Edinburgh, co-directed by Professors Charles ffrench-Constant and Siddharthan Chandran, to continue their ground-breaking work into understanding the causes and mechanisms behind MS and finding ways to slow or stop disease progression.

The multi-disciplinary team is made up of investigators from across the University, primarily in the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Centre for Neuroregeneration. In addition, the Anne Rowling Clinic will provide an interface between the laboratory-based basic science and clinical research.

Partnerships with the Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair, the MS Society Tissue Bank (Imperial College London) and the UK MS Register (Swansea University) are integral and vital to the success of the venture.

Over the next 5 years, the Edinburgh Centre will focus their research on stem cells, in the hope of building a clearer picture of how MS develops and a better method for modelling the condition and finding effective treatments. Their crucial insights into the underlying biology of MS will inform treatment development and pave the way for innovative new therapies to repair the damage that occurs in MS.

A stem cell-derived human oligodendrocyte (myelin-producing cell; red) in culture. Credit: Nina Rzechorzek.

Professor Siddharthan Chandran, Co-Director of the Edinburgh Centre for MS Research, said:

“In Scotland we are uniquely placed to conduct this world-class research, and as the country with one of the greatest burdens of this condition it is increasingly important that we should take a lead in tackling it. We are very fortunate to have a wealth of expertise in regenerative medicine, an NHS that is hardwired to support the best clinical research, and a wonderful community of patients and supporters. With their help, we hope to change the experience of MS for people around the world.”

The Centre has already made many significant breakthroughs. In collaboration with the MS Society-funded Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair, they have found several key molecules that could play important roles in helping to regenerate and repair myelin, one of which is known as RXR-gamma. Researchers are now preparing a small clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of a drug that can target RXR-gamma and could potentially repair myelin in people with MS.

Professor Charles ffrench-Constant, Co-Director of the Edinburgh Centre for MS Research, said:

“The value of this funding cannot be underestimated at a time when we have real grounds for optimism in MS research. Stem cells provide genuine hope as a vital tool for drug development. We are confident that they could soon help us answer the unmet need for treatments to stop, slow or reverse the symptoms of this condition.”

The MS Society is a global leader of MS research and is the leading UK charity for people with MS. Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of the MS Society in the UK, said:

“We know that people with MS desperately want treatments that can slow, stop or reverse the effects of MS progression – and the world-class researchers at the Edinburgh Centre could be pivotal in paving the way for how the condition is treated in the future. Aside from the cutting-edge research being carried out there, it’s also a place where highly promising young scientists are being supported to embark on a career in the field of MS, ensuring that the best scientific minds are focussed on finding answers for people with the condition for years to come.”


Jen Middleton
University of Edinburgh Press and PR Office
0131 650 6514
Notes to editors
  • See the press release on the MS Society website for more details.
  • More information about the project can be found on the MS Society website here.