Multiple Sclerosis


I was with my family watching 'The Revenant' this afternoon when I got a text from Sagit Weiss, the Crowdacure founder, to say we had done it; we had reached our funding target. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.

— Gavin

Thank you to the backers!

The problem

Multiple sclerosis is a severely disabling disease affecting two million people around the world.1 None of the available therapies can stop the disease’s progression.2


Our solution

Multiple sclerosis might not just be an autoimmune disease. Viruses could participate in causing the disease. Help us find out if we can treat multiple sclerosis with antiviral drugs.

We will use Famciclovir

This generic drug has shown to reduce the activity of the Epstein-Barr virus. It has been administered to a small number of people with severe infectious mononucleosis. Compared to other available drugs we think it’s safer, cheaper and better tolerated.

It is very difficult to treat viruses.

Viruses are not alive, so they can’t be ‘killed’. We want to make sure the Famciclovir treatment reduces the activity of the virus. To do this we’ll compare how much of the virus is present before and after treatment.

What’s the best time of day to detect the virus?

We know we can detect the virus in saliva, but we don’t yet know how much virus is found in the saliva of people with MS, or when is the best time of day to detect it. The first step of our project is to find this out.

The experiment

Measuring the presence of the EBV virus

Take saliva samples to measure the virus

Make the virus DNA visible using polymerase chain reaction


Read and analyse the data

The Centre for Sport and Exercise Science in Sheffield Hallam University have recently conducted research on people with multiple sclerosis (Carter et al., 2014). As part of this research they collected saliva samples from 120 people and have kindly shared them with us*.

We will measure how much viral DNA we find in the collected saliva samples of each patient at 8am, 12pm, 5pm and 9pm on the collection days. It’s possible that the presence of the virus DNA will vary throughout the day. The virus presence may not be stable over time.

*Ethical approval has already been obtained from the South Yorkshire Research Ethics Committee to analyse these samples.

Why are we measuring the EBV virus?

Every adult with multiple sclerosis has been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus at some point in their life and we want to discover its role in potentially causing the MS disease to develop.

Epstein-Barr virus is well-known for causing the ‘kissing disease’ (infectious mononucleosis) and we know that if a person has had infectious mononucleosis as a teenager they are more likely to get multiple sclerosis as an adult.

Our goal

We want to know what time of day to measure the presence of the virus, and how high the virus level is in patients before they start the treatment. We aim to have this information within three months. We will use our findings to design a pilot study on people with multiple sclerosis to see the effect of Famciclovir on the Epstein-Barr virus.

Why is this research hard to fund?

Private sector funding bodies generally do not give finance to projects that use a generic drug such as Famciclovir. In addition, viral hypothesis regarding multiple sclerosis is an alternative direction of research, with the main working hypothesis being autoimmunity. As this is a slightly unconventional approach it is harder to gather the necessary support and funding.

Thank you!

Thank you so much for partnering with us to make this project happen. Check back soon for updates on our progress. We hope to be able to share the results with you three months after the end of this campaign.

If you want to send your feedback to the research team you can leave a comment or email them at

The Project FAQs


November 11th, 2016

Final Update, Future Prospects.

An update on the completion of the research project is available here and here

Thank you to the backers!

Aidan McGilly
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Alberto Leonardi
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caze guillaume
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    Pledged of £10,044 Goal
    Help us find out if we can treat multiple sclerosis with antiviral drugs
    Step 1: Specify your contribution amount for Multiple Sclerosis

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