National MS Society and GE Healthcare Join Forces to Fund Unique Imaging Study in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

NEW YORK, Oct. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Multiple Sclerosis Society today announced that it has entered into a research collaboration agreement with GE Healthcare through Fast Forward, a not for profit subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, to co-fund a clinical study with the GE investigational PET tracer, GE180, in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The clinical study, which will be enrolling patients in the United Kingdom, is aimed to aid in physicians' understanding whether imaging neuroinflammation in MS patients before and after treatment with natalizumab (Tysabri®)* can help identify which patients may respond to treatment.

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"We are pleased to partner with GE Healthcare in the investigation of this innovative imaging technology for MS," said Timothy Coetzee, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer of the National MS Society. "This partnership with GE Healthcare reflects our commitment to developing new tools and technologies and supporting treatment decisions in collaboration with people coping with MS. We believe that these types of innovative programs are critical to improving quality of life and may ultimately help us to understand how different therapies are working."

In MS, the immune system damages and destroys myelin, the material that surrounds and protects nerve fibers, in the brain and spinal cord. Research is showing that microglia, a type of immune cell in the brain and spinal cord, becomes active early in MS and participates in MS attacks. GE180 binds to a molecule on the surface of microglia that is known to be more active following inflammation. A PET scan with GE180 may prove ideal for studying responses to disease-modifying therapies in MS.  In addition this technology may have application in detecting inflammation in progressive forms of MS. 

GE Healthcare has taken a comprehensive approach to understanding a variety of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, concussion, traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis through its ongoing research. GE Healthcare is working collaboratively with industry partners and the pharmaceutical industry to assist in their development of the next generation of therapies for these disorders, by providing imaging support for clinical trials of therapeutic agents.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Fast Forward, LLC

The Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS.  To fulfill this mission, the Society funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, collaborates with MS organizations around the world, and provides programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.  In 2012 alone, through its home office and 50-state network of chapters, the Society devoted $122.1 million to programs and services that assisted more than one million people. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested $43.3 million to support more than 350 new and ongoing research projects around the world. The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at www.nationalMSsociety.org.

Fast Forward, LLC was established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as part of a comprehensive approach to MS research and treatment, focusing on accelerating commercial development of promising research discoveries.  Through Fast Forward, the Society connects university-based MS research with private-sector drug development and funds small biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative new MS therapies and repurpose FDA-approved drugs as new treatments for MS. For more information, please visit http://www.nationalmssociety.org/fast-forward//index.aspx

ABOUT GE HEALTHCARE

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services to meet the demand for increased access, enhanced quality and more affordable healthcare around the world.  GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter - great people and technologies taking on tough challenges. From medical imaging, software & IT, patient monitoring and diagnostics to drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies and performance improvement solutions, GE Healthcare helps medical professionals deliver great healthcare to their patients.

*Tysabri is a registered trademark of Biogen Idec

SOURCE National Multiple Sclerosis Society



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