LONDON, January 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Stem cell research in multiple sclerosis (MS) has been given a much-needed shot in the arm thanks to a partnership between the UK's largest charity supporting people affected by the condition and the UK's only charity dedicated to supporting stem cell research.

The MS Society and the UK Stem Cell Foundation (UKSCF) today (Thursday) formally marked the beginning of the collaboration by announcing a call for research grant applications that can now dip into a dedicated pot of joint-funding up to GBP1million.

Dr Doug Brown, Biomedical Research Manager at the MS Society, said the partnership would pump prime and speed up stem cell research.

He added: We're delighted to announce this partnership that is the first of its kind and look forward to receiving applications for research funding.

Stem cells are showing real promise in MS, and the sooner we can take the science from the bench to the bedside, the sooner people with MS will get the answers they so desperately need.

The potential of stem cells as a treatment for MS has long been the subject of much interest and debate.

In 2009, the MS Society convened an International Consensus Meeting for stem cell therapies and MS and a number of international experts put forward the view that MS is a condition that could benefit greatly from targeted and increased stem cell research investment and the collaboration is in direct response to that.

The UK is a recognised global leader in all aspects of stem cell research and in an ideal position to advance stem cell techniques into the clinic for the benefit of billions of people around the globe.

Progress in this area is being hindered, however, by a critical gap between currently available government and private funding and the countless promising research projects in need of financial assistance.

Without increasing commitment and funding for research and a push for clinical trials, there are fears these benefits will not be realised.

People with MS and the world's leading researchers have made it clear that more research is needed now, Dr Brown added.

The MS Society and UKSCF will work together to raise awareness of MS and stem cell research with the aim of attracting high quality research applications.

Sir Richard Sykes, UKSCF Board of Trustees Chairman, said: The UK Stem Cell Foundation is delighted to be joining forces with the MS Society to advance the translation of stem cell science towards innovative new therapies for multiple sclerosis.

Notes to Editors:

MS Society

- The MS Society ( is the UK's largest charity dedicated to supporting everyone whose life is touched by multiple sclerosis (MS), providing respite care, an award-winning freephone helpline (0808 800 8000), specialist MS nurses and funding more than 80 vital MS research projects in the UK. - MS is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults and an estimated 100,000 people in the UK have MS. - MS is the result of damage to myelin - the protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system - which interferes with messages between the brain and the body. - For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission while for others it has a progressive pattern. - Symptoms range from loss of sight and mobility, fatigue, depression and cognitive problems. There is no cure and few effective treatments.

UK Stem Cell Foundation

The UK Stem Cell Foundation (UKSCF) ( is the only UK medical research charity devoted solely to raising the much-needed funding for stem cell projects.

Established in 2005, the main aim of the Foundation is to speed up the translation of research and stem cell technology from the laboratory to life-changing therapies for patients.

In order to achieve this, the UKSCF aims to:

- Fund projects where research has indicated potential for direct clinical benefit to patients in the short term (2-5 years); seizing opportunities to fund innovative projects as they arise. - Promote UK scientific, ethical and commercial leadership in this vital area. - Facilitate stem cell networks, dissemination of new ideas and knowledge. - Develop an ethical regulatory framework as medical advances occur. - Address the broad range of associated issues - scientific, ethical, political and economical - comprehensively and directly. - Operate a lean, cost effective administration, under the direction of an eminent Board of Trustees and with careful concise and intensive project management.

The creation of the Foundation has been endorsed by the Government as well as the Royal Society of Medicine, Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and by twenty leading research universities, including Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, Manchester, Newcastle Oxford, UCL and York.

SOURCE: MS Society and UK Stem Cell Foundation

CONTACT: For media enquiries please contact the MS Society Press Office on+44(0)20-8438-0840, or the out of hours duty press officer on+44(0)7909-851401. UKSCF contact: Lil Shortland, Chief Operating Officer,The UK Stem Cell Foundation, Abbey House, 83 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH22ER, Tel: +44(0)131-718-0684, Fax: +44(0)131-718-0681, Mob:+44(0)7973-211149, Email: