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E.g., 04/08/2020
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Partnership project between AISM and University of Milan presented on



This important milestone achieved through cooperation between the University of Milan and Italian MS Society, the largest private non-profit organization engaged in research on MS.GPR17: jointly filed a patent for a class of re-myelinating molecules.


The partnership between a university and a private non-profit organization aims not only to generate scientifically relevant results, but to join forces to achieve a complex goal that requires different skills and resources: the transition from basic research to translational development, creating real opportunities of improving the patient's condition. The partnership between the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (FISM) and University of Milan (UNIMI) thus represents a
positive example, based on shared research projects and on an integrated management of actions aimed at enhancing opportunities to generate new therapies to be then transfered the industry.


The history of GPR17 project, recently jointly patented by UNIMI and FISM, fits into this scenario. GPR17 receptor was identified in a series of studies conducted between 2006 and 2011 by researchers from the University of Milan, Pisa, Turin and CNR. The researchers, led by Professor Maria Pia Abbracchio (Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Milan), showed that, following brain insults such as stroke, trauma or injury of the myelin sheath (the structure that insulates nerves and provides fast communication between brain cells), GPR17
behaves like a "warning" of damage, activating mechanisms aimed at remodeling and repairing the injured area. Thus, GPR17 represents a new target to develop novel therapies for diseases characterized by demyelination, such as multiple sclerosis. These results, potentially applicable to the definition of new therapies, were achieved with the strong synergy between research institutions and FISM, that supported the continuation of research and allowed the initiation of further development.


Using a sophisticated system of virtual receptor binding simulation of compounds potentially active on GPR17 developed by the UNIMI researcher Ivano Eberini, who recently joined the team) and an original analysis of FISM on the patentability of the families of molecules thus identified, FISM and UNIMI proceeded together to protect the intellectual property of these results by filing the patent. This will be the starting point for further studies aimed at identifying, within these chemical families, the prototypes of a new class of re-myelinating molecules. In the future, FISM and UNIMI will work on the validation of these results and will promote further development. Professor Alberto Mantovani Vice Rector for Research of the University of Milan commented: "The collaboration FISM-UNIMI is new model of virtuous public/private non-profit interaction, focused on a highly innovative research in the service of patients' health". Professor Mario Alberto Battaglia – FISM Chairman declares: "The Italian Multiple Sclerosis Society, through its Foundation, is the main Italian funder of research on multiple sclerosis and invests on the best Italian research, taking care of the fallout of funding on concrete progresses for people with MS and promoting research network of excellence ".