UB’s Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center Receives $100,000 Challenge Grant to Study Advanced Multiple Sclerosis

UB’s Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center Receives $100,000 Challenge Grant to Study Advanced Multiple Sclerosis Image

Buffalo, NY, May 17, 2022 – The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases (AFRFND) has awarded a $100,000 challenge grant to the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC) in support of the center’s groundbreaking study of people with advanced-stage progressive Multiple Sclerosis. The grant is part of an ongoing campaign that, so far, has raised over $400,000 toward the overall goal of $1 million to underwrite this multi-year, investigator-initiated study. 

BNAC researchers believe the study will lead to first-ever therapies and innovative devices to reduce pain and other MS symptoms, and ultimately improve quality of life for those with severe MS and their caregivers. The research, called Comprehensive Assessment of Severely Affected Multiple Sclerosis, or CASA-MS, is being conducted in collaboration with University of Buffalo’s Jacobs Multiple Sclerosis Center for Treatment and Research and The Boston Home, a long-term care facility specializing in care for people with advanced stage MS and other progressive neurological disorders.

The study is being underwritten by gifts and grants from individuals and foundations. Donations to generate matching funds can be made through the University’s website. Donations received by Dec. 31, 2022 will be matched by Funicello grant.

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of the 2.8 million people with MS have symptoms that progress in severity significantly, unpredictably, and seemingly at random. Advanced or severe MS causes very significant functional and cognitive disabilities and other symptoms that require challenging in-home care or costly institutional care.

BNAC Director Robert Zivadinov, MD, Ph.D., believes the study will open the door to more research on this under-studied population and will also advance our overall understanding of how MS progresses.

“Because insights gained from our research of people with advanced MS will help us understand disease progression, that could affect everyone with MS—regardless of their current disability status—as well as all who care for them.” said Zivadinov. “We are extremely grateful for the Funicello Fund’s leadership in this important work.”

Philip Holt, Chair of the Funicello fund, said the Board was pleased to make this grant, the largest in its history.

“Our mission is to support clinical studies seeking the cause of MS and therapies that show promise of reversing the symptoms,” said Holt. “Annette Funicello first noticed her MS symptoms in 1987 when she was making the movie ‘Back to the Beach.’ As her MS progressed and her symptoms became increasingly pronounced, Annette decided to go public with her condition and commit herself to helping others. BNAC’s work and this study are perfectly aligned with her commitment.”

The CASA-MS study compares advanced-stage MS in participants at The Boston Home to age-, sex- and disease-duration-matched MS participants who are routinely followed at the Jacob’s Center in Buffalo, NY. It will establish a comprehensive framework within which to study the unique needs of those severely affected people with Multiple Sclerosis. The findings of this patient-centered research will stimulate future clinical trials exploring disease progression in this understudied MS cohort.

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