For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Feinstein Kean Healthcare
Accelerated Cure Project Launches MS Repository, World's Largest Biobank for Multiple Sclerosis Research
Initial sample base of 1,000 subjects is first step toward goal of 10,000
Contributions to $2.5 million fund raising goal will be leveraged by $1M matching grant from Water Cove Charitable Foundation
Waltham, MA -- October 25, 2006. The Accelerated Cure Project for MS, a national nonprofit organization, today announced the formation of their MS Repository, projected to become the largest openly accessible, multi-disciplinary collection of bio-samples ever assembled for use in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research. The initial phase of the repository development will collect blood samples from 1,000 subjects across the country and make them available to researchers investigating the causes of MS, providing them with immediate access to a far greater number of samples than most scientists could collect themselves. Limited sample size is one of the most frequently cited reasons for inconclusive results in MS research to date. After reaching the 1,000 subject milestone, the Accelerated Cure Project intends to continue enrolling subjects with an eventual goal of recruiting 10,000 participants.
In addition to helping researchers overcome the obstacle of limited sample size, this repository will provide a common population of samples useful in a wide variety of disciplines, which will enable results from different research perspectives to be easily combined and correlated. This will accelerate the identification of meaningful sub-groups within the MS population and will help highlight interactions between factors that can lead to the development of MS, for example, genetic background coupled with a nutritional or infectious trigger. Subjects enrolled in the study will be contacted over time to allow new samples to be taken and to record important changes in clinical status. Studying the same sample population over time, and pooling knowledge in a central database, is seen as a major step toward understanding what causes MS, thereby accelerating a cure for the nearly 2 million people worldwide afflicted with this disease.
Biobanks-central repositories of biological components such as blood and tissue samples, combined with clinical data about the samples-are playing an increasingly important role in medical research. This is especially true in research into multifactorial diseases like MS and diabetes, which are believed to be caused by combinations of different factors, and which may even be multiple disorders with different underlying causes but similar outcomes. A common sample population that is large enough to produce statistically significant results and that is accompanied by a database for capturing and combining research results is seen as a highly effective resource for leveraging the knowledge gained by research in multiple disciplines. The Accelerated Cure Project repository is expected to help in identifying possible causes and subtypes of MS, and may also benefit MS research in other ways such as detecting biomarkers that can be used in drug development.
According to Dr. Ben Greenberg, Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, "With the advent of the Accelerated Cure Project bio-specimen bank, we will be able to conduct research into multiple potential causes of MS and other demyelinating diseases and be able to cross-correlate results, not only among our own researchers, but with results derived from studies at other research facilities around the country."
The Accelerated Cure Project will act as a central information hub in a growing network of research centers and make all data collected available to all researchers using samples from its repository. Participants in the network currently include Johns Hopkins Medical Center (Baltimore), University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center (Worcester), University of Texas Southwestern (Dallas), Multiple Sclerosis Research Center of New York (New York), Barrow Neurological Institute (Phoenix) and Shepherd Center (Atlanta). Because the MS repository is open-access, scientists outside the network who are investigating the causes of MS will also be able to request the use of samples and data.
To facilitate the collection and storage of bio-samples and the capture of sample donor data, the Accelerated Cure Project has engaged the services of organizations with extensive experience in each of these areas. Collection site management is being conducted by Omnicare Clinical Research, a leading contract research organization operating in 30 countries. Maintenance of the sample repository is being handled by Genomics Collaborative (NASDAQ:SRLS), a commercial repository and genomics lab located in Cambridge, MA. Electronic data collection is being done by the Document Solutions Group, a medical informatics company located in Malvern, PA.
Creating and managing the 1,000 sample repository will cost $2.5 million over the next 18 months with additional funding needed to meet the 10,000 sample goal. Funding for this ambitious project comes primarily from individual donors, with support from corporate contributors such as John Hancock Financial Services (NYSE:MFC), Return Path, and Sun Life Financial (NYSE:SLF), and foundations such as The Montel Williams MS Foundation. To help achieve this financial goal as quickly as possible, the Water Cove Charitable Foundation will match all contributions of $1,000 or more, up to a total of $1 million. Additional matching is available for multi-year gifts.
Art Mellor, founder and president of the Accelerated Cure Project for MS says, "We hope philanthropists will recognize what an exciting opportunity this is. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually on independent research projects, yet with only $2.5 million an entire network of leading researchers can be supported in such a way as to change the face of MS research."
About Accelerated Cure Project
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 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.