As one of the central fields of medical research at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), neuroscience is to gain a new research center for multiple sclerosis (MS). In Germany alone, some 200,000 people are affected by this as yet incurable disease, the cause of which remains unknown. Researchers at the TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar will now focus on MS and link clinical aspects of the disease with basic research. This major project has been enabled thanks to a 25 million euro donation by the Klaus Tschira Foundation, established by physicist Klaus Tschira. The associated contract was signed today by the President of TUM, Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, and Directors of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Beate Spiegel and Harald Tschira.
In multiple sclerosis, the most common inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, the protective outer coating of the nerves is attacked and destroyed by the body’s own immune system, for reasons that are as yet unknown. The loss of this protective coating results in damage to the nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms range from sensations of numbness to visual disorders, loss of coordination, problems with concentration and even paralysis.
Each year, 1000 MS patients receive treatment at TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar, and numerous research groups there study the disease. The Klaus Tschira Foundation’s comprehensive financial support will now be used to establish a new MS treatment and research center within the grounds of the university hospital.
"We are convinced that bringing outstanding scientists together in this new center will make a vital contribution to advancing research into the causes and treatment of MS", say Harald Tschira and Beate Spiegel in relation to the Klaus Tschira Foundation’s involvement. "Of the 25 million euros, 20 million are for construction and 5 million for research."
TUM President Herrmann is very pleased: "The new research center will be a great success, and we thank the Klaus Tschira Foundation for it. The new build will give the excellent scientists already working at the Technical University of Munich a shared address right in the middle of the medical campus of TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar. This generous donation substantiates our reputation in neuroscience, recently boosted once more by the appointment of top researcher Prof. Mikael Simons from Göttingen."
Building on existing: MS research at TUM
The main effect of the new build will be to bring the existing MS-related research groups at TUM together under a single roof. Scientists working on basic research and clinical research will work closely together to ensure that new discoveries are quickly translated into practical applications. As well as studying the immune system, scientists in the new research center will investigate the mechanisms that trigger damage to the nerve coatings and to the nerve fibers themselves. Their findings will feed into new therapeutic approaches, targeting especially the progressive stage of the disease.
"This research center will be unique in Germany, with doctors and scientists in areas ranging from clinical practice to basic research working together under a single roof", says Prof. Bernhard Hemmer , Director of the Department of Neurology, TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar. "MS patients will be the main beneficiaries of this new structure, since the systematic utilization of research results extends the range of treatment options and will one day enable individualized treatment of the disease."