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Cambridge Neuroscience Multiple Sclerosis research receives a £100,000 grant

Cambridge researchers have received a major grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity totalling £100,000.

The Provincial Grand Master of Cambridgeshire, Rodney Wolverson, presented a cheque for the first instalment of £50,000 to Professor Alistair Compston (pictured below right) and Dr. Alasdair Coles (pictured below left) of the University of Cambridge's Department of Clinical Neurosciences today, Wednesday 25 August at Freemasons' Hall, Bateman Street, Cambridge.

The grant is helping to fund research into the side effects of a drug called "alemtuzumab", for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Local Freemasons and Freemasons from around the country have worked together to raise these funds.

Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common neurological conditions among young adults, affecting around 100,000 people in the UK. Although the mechanism of the disease is not fully understood it is known to be linked to the action of the population of white blood cells. Effects include episodes of disturbed sight, walking and thinking, which progress to more severe physical and mental disabilities.

Since 1991, research has taken place at the University of Cambridge on the development of the revolutionary drug alemtuzumab as a treatment for multiple sclerosis, because of its ability to destroy white blood cells. Results have shown that alemtuzumab is a much more effective treatment for early stage relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis than the currently approved drug. The results also show it may repair damaged brain tissue, enabling the recovery of neurological functions, an unprecedented finding.

This grant is enabling this research to continue and to develop measures to mitigate the risks involved to patients taking the drug. Improved understanding of the side effects of the drug is critically important in its development as a safe, effective treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Laura Chapman, Chief Executive of The Freemasons' Grand Charity said:

"We are delighted to have been able to assist The Cambridge Foundation with a grant of £100,000. Funding medical research is at the heart of the Masonic community, and we are proud to support research into the treatment of multiple sclerosis at both a local and national level."

Dr. Alasdair Coles, pictured left, of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge said:

"This extremely generous donation will enable us to further advance this exciting new treatment for multiple sclerosis."

The Major Grants Scheme is just one of the initiatives driven by The Freemasons' Grand Charity which donates over £3 million to national charities every year.

Article by the University of Cambridge Press Office.

Posted on 25/08/2010

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