Frequently Asked Questions Regarding MRF’s reduced operations
Why has MRF drastically cut back its activities?
As a non-profit, for over 11 years, MRF has relied on generous gifts from individuals, foundations and companies. MRF never had an endowment or operating income so we relied on on-going new gifts to continue our critical work. Fundraising is never easy. It has always been a challenge to raise our minimum budget, much less to increase our budget to accelerate discoveries. We do not have sufficient funds to operate as we have been. In order to ensure that our accomplishments to date and our work in progress best serves MS patients, we are using donations to preserve the science and momentum that we have built together over the last 11 years.
What will happen to the research currently underway, and to the MRF consortium?
The principal investigators and scientists who have been a part of our world-class research consortium will continue their research efforts. When MRF began, interest in and funding for myelin repair was limited. Because of MRF others are now funding neuroprotection and repair, both in academia and in biopharma companies. Members of our academic team will seek grants from other sources to conduct new experiments.
Among MRF’s many activities to facilitate exceptional science by the academic team, we organized and conducted monthly collaboration conference calls and at least two in-person consortium team meetings annually to discuss their research and share findings. We are currently exploring ways to organize and fund the continuation of in-person meetings to allow some level of on-going collaboration. You can find a list of those consortium members and their affiliated programs here.
What will happen to MRF’s Translational Medicine Center (TMC) and the assays it has developed?
We will be closing down the lab on November 30, 2015. Our suite of myelin repair assays, developed at our Translational Medicine Center (TMC), can and should continue to play a key role in developing a myelin repair therapeutic. We feel that the more companies and academics that have our assays, the better the chance of finding a drug to help MS patients. To facilitate that, MRF will publish the assay protocols for general knowledge and use by any who wish to employ them in their research. And we will be posting, for any scientist to view, the results from the compounds we have evaluated to date at the TMC.
In addition, once we made the decision to wind down, our research staff worked fast and furiously to try to find a home(s) for our assays. We targeted and then contacted pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, foundations and venture capital firms to identify organizations capable of and interested in employing the MRF assays in drug discovery.
We are thrilled to announce that on September 1, 2015 we signed a research and technology transfer services agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. Through the end of November Teva will work closely with our scientific staff to learn the assays with the goal of applying them towards finding a myelin repair therapeutic.
What about the clinical trial for guanabenz (MRF-008)?
As you may already know, we were awarded an Investigational New Drug (IND) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a first-in-class clinical trial to evaluate the neuroprotective ability of guanabenz (compound MRF-008) in multiple sclerosis patients. To conduct this trial MRF entered into a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
We are pleased to say that despite MRF’s wind down this trial will continue. As of May 2015, the trial is underway and is expected to take a few years to complete. The MRF’s VP of Translational Medicine, Dr. Tassie Collins, intends to continue to act in an advisory role through the duration of the trial. Information regarding the trial details and progress will be available at www.clinicaltrials.gov.
If I make a donation, whom do I contact if I need a copy of my tax receipt?
The MRF will have staff on hand to issue any tax receipts that you may need for your records.
What have been MRF’s key accomplishments over the last 11 years?
- When MRF began few thought myelin repair was possible and the few that did, thought it was 50 years away. Now most think it is possible and will be the next generation of MS treatment.
- MRF has driven programs from basic science to validation and translation, and on to the clinic.
- MRF has transformed the myelin repair landscape: Virtually every leader in myelin repair / neuroscience is associated with MRF in some way.
- We have designed and demonstrated an innovative new model to accelerate medical research resulting in three Phase 1 clinical trials.
- MRF created an environment where the best myelin related scientists from around the world could work collaboratively.
- Over 135 papers have been published by our academic team.
- We established an MRF staffed lab with unique capabilities to thoroughly examine compounds for their myelin repair potential.
- Over 1,000 compounds have been tested in MRF developed, academically elegant but industry rigorous, state-of-the-art assays.
- We licensed an innovative animal model that may allow better study of progressive MS to Biogen.
- MRF established multiple partnerships with biopharma companies to help advance myelin repair.
- The FDA awarded MRF an Investigational New Drug (IND) to test MRF-008 in humans with MS.
Read about the clinical trial of a potential MS drug to protect and repair myelin.