History and Milestones

ACP’s founder, Art Mellor, is a high-tech entrepreneur who was diagnosed with MS in 2000. After learning about MS through online searches, books, and research papers, Mellor—who had no formal background in medicine—met with several MS researchers from both the academic and pharmaceutical worlds.

Visits with his doctor, Tim Vartanian, M.D., Ph.D., led to a discussion about the lack of innovation and collaboration in MS research. Mellor and Vartanian agreed that a different approach was needed to accelerate efforts toward a cure for MS. So, in 2001 they created the 501(c)3 organization headquartered in Waltham, MA—now known as the Accelerated Cure Project for MS.

ACP’s initial scientific project was the development of the Cure Map, a comprehensive analysis of proposed causes of MS and the knowledge generated by the many scientists who have investigated these causes in MS.
This important effort gave us much needed insight into the complexity of MS and laid the groundwork for future progress on research strategies and resources specifically tailored to address the challenges posed by this type of disorder. The approach to building the Cure Map included the following:

  • Phase 1: Clearly articulating what is known about the root causes of MS and organizing that knowledge in a logical way that is easily understood. This gave us an understanding of the potential fruitful areas of study.
  • Phase 2: Reviewing current and past MS research to overlay results on what we determined in Phase 1. This helped us to organize the vast amount of information on MS so we could better identify how different areas of research might relate within the context of a bigger framework.

From the Cure Map analyses, we realized that MS is highly complex and that research efforts could be accelerated toward a cure if more high-quality materials, particularly biosamples and associated clinical data, were readily and cost-efficiently available to the research community. Additionally, drawing upon the founder’s experience of the enormous benefits of sharing resources in the high-tech industry, we decided to actively promote the sharing of resources and results as a key aspect of our approach to accelerating efforts toward a cure.

We formally launched the ACP Repository in 2006 as a source of high-quality materials, readily and cost-efficiently available to the MS research community, and also as a platform to bring together data about multiple aspects of MS that can be analyzed together to enable a deeper understanding of the causes and mechanisms of the disease.

Working with our network of leading neurologic clinics, we enrolled thousands of study participants—with and without MS and other neurological conditions. These donated samples have helped to enable numerous studies, and millions of data points in the ACP Repository database are now available for the benefit of all researchers. See the current status of the ACP Repository.

Recognizing also that efforts toward a cure could be accelerated if the MS researchers had a forum to share ideas, in the spring of 2012 ACP introduced the Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum (MSDF)—an interactive virtual community that connects and educates investigators who study MS and other demyelinating disorders of the central nervous system. MSDF was created through collaboration with the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND) and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics.

Neither of these initiatives would have been possible without our earlier work on the Cure Map.

2001 -ACP founded

-Cure Map initiated

-Scientific Advisory Board formed
2002 - MSNews portal launched (now part of MS Discovery Forum)
2004 - ACP Repository pilot study launched with two sites (University of Massachusetts Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center)
2005 - First set of repository samples and data distributed for scientific use to Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

- First set of ACP Repository-generated experimental results received

- Meeting held at American Academy of Neurology conference to discuss needs for MS sample banking

- Partnership formed with the Transverse Myelitis Association
2006 - ACP Repository main study launched

- Workshop on Infections in MS held in coordination with the HHV-6 Foundation

- Phase 1 of Cure Map completed (analysis of proposed disease causes)
2007 - Phase 2 of Cure Map completed (analysis of MS research)
2008 - 1000th ACP Repository study participant enrolled

- Scientific summit on Genes & Environment in MS held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
2009 - Technical Advisory Board created

- Partnership formed with Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation

- Collaboration formed with Fast Forward

- Symposium held on Vitamin D in MS
2010 - 10th Repository site opened (Stanford University School of Medicine)

- Symposium held on Using Systems Biology and Informatics to Understand MS
2011 - 50th research study supported by ACP Repository samples and data launched

- Creation of the MS Discovery Forum started

- ACP received the Global Leadership in Innovation and Collaboration Award from Suffolk University’s Center for Innovation and Change Leadership
2012 - MS Discovery Forum launched

- Clinical Effectiveness Study Network established
2013     -ACP becomes founding member of Orion Bionetworks Alliance for MS disease modeling