To overcome MS, it is necessary to better understand the mechanisms of the disease. In university laboratories and research centres, budgets for multiple sclerosis research are limited. Each year, research teams therefore turn to the Belgian Charcot Foundation. A few figures illustrate what a donation means.
2018-2022 : a significant increase in the number of projects, and therefore a major impact on the knowledge about MS
Over the past 5 years, the Charcot Foundation has financially supported 47 research projects, whereas in
2013-2017 it was possible to finance only 30 projects.
The scope of research is both broader and more detailed
- One third of these projects, i.e. 15 projects, relate to the immunopathology of multiple sclerosis. They include research on B lymphocytes (3 projects), T lymphocytes (4 projects), neutrophils (1 project), natural killer cells (1 project), and most of all macrophages and microglia in the central nervous system (6 projects).
- 17 projects focus on the mechanisms of the disease and potential activity markers. They study genetic susceptibility factors, DNA modifications, the presence of extracellular vesicles, protease activity, the role of the gut microbiome, the specific inflammation of the hippocampus (the area of the brain in charge of memory), the pathological accumulation of fatty acids and the measurement of the impairment of the blood-brain barrier.
- 12 projects have a therapeutic goal. They include the study of ferroptosis inhibitors (ferroptosis is cell death caused by the accumulation of iron), the study of remyelination by nanoparticles carrying trophic factors, the role of dendritic cells made tolerant to brain proteins, the immune effects of anti-CD20 treatment, the immune effects of autologous haematopoietic marrow transplants, the specific activation of regulator T cells, the use of T lymphocytes that secrete anti-inflammatory molecules further to genetic modification.
- Finally, two projects study the rehabilitation of symptomatic patients and one the potential role of the Epstein-Barr virus as a trigger for multiple sclerosis.
What is next?
The 2023 call for projects will be opened soon and the winners announced at the beginning of 2023. The scientific papers relating to the projects financed in 2021 and 2022 will be published in 2023, 2024, and even later.
We are not able - no one is - to determine which research is the most likely to lead to new, effective treatments. We need to support researchers' 'freedom of enterprise', and it is only to be expected that some projects will not yield the expected results, while others will be successful. The main thing is to constitute a body of knowledge on the disease.
Professor Christian Sindic
President of the Belgian Charcot Foundation