There are many different forms of research all of them with potential to help understand, treat and hopefully eventually cure MS. This page aims to give readers a very general overview of the kind of things we look for as MS research project funders.
The bright idea. MS is complicated and requires very specialist knowledge but within this there is scope for many different approaches to understanding and treating MS. For example, a better understanding of MS and its impact can be gained from qualitative approaches like questionaires and interviews. Exploring the causes of and implications of MS requires a more quantitative approach such as a medical trial. The most important factor regardless of approach is to have a strong team with the right people to examine all aspects of the study. Stage one therefore includes deciding which approach to use, who needs to be a part of that team and how to engage with people who have MS. MS Research encourages anyone who has MS to participate even at the earliest stages of research.
Setting standards. Strict rules apply to all research projects in the UK and they differ between university based projects and NHS based projects, it is therefore important for research teams to make sure they have the appropriate permissions before they undertake projects. This requires them to have a very clear plan about how they wish to conduct the research (protocol) and where research team members are based either in the NHS or the university system. Permissions from both will be needed.
Costs and funding. In the planning stage, researchers will need to work out exactly how much each part of the project will cost in terms of salaries and materials, this is the point at which MS Research will consider a project proposal.
Doing the work. The permissions needed for research are based on very clear regulations. Carefully planning the research to ensure that the project runs smoothly so that the timelines are met, doing the research may take anything between a few months to several years. The average time for a study being around three years.
Spreading the word. It is essential that all studies should be published to inform other researchers of the outcomes and to enable those treating MS which treatments have been successful and how to use them. It is also important that this information reaches patients so that they can make an informed decision regardings its value to them. MS Research posts information on social media, through its website and other means to help people stay up to date with the latest findings.