Accelerated Cure Project, Quest Diagnostics and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Form Research Collaboration to Evaluate COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis & its iConquerMS People-Powered Research Network to Collaborate with Quest Diagnostics and the National MS Society to Launch COVER-MS Sub-Study of Immune Responses to COVID-19 Vaccinations

WALTHAM, Mass., Sept. 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Accelerated Cure Project (ACP, for multiple sclerosis (MS), with its iConquerMS™ People-Powered Research Network ( initiative, is collaborating with Quest Diagnostics and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society ( to study immune response to COVID-19 vaccinations of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

"Understanding the immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine doses in a longer-term study in people with MS will provide tremendous insights into not only optimal vaccine dosing for this population, but it will shed light on how vaccines may affect people with immune disorders or who are taking immunomodulatory therapies," says Bruce Bebo, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Research, National MS Society. "We have had a long and productive collaboration with Accelerated Cure Project and its iConquerMS network and we're looking forward to working with them and with Quest Diagnostics on this important project."

This research project is a sub-study of the larger COVID-19 VaccinE Response in MS Project (COVER-MS Project). Suggested by members of the iConquerMS community through the "Our Questions Have Power" initiative in which members can suggest and vote on research questions, COVER-MS is designed to gain real-world data on the effects of COVID-19 vaccination in people with MS via patient-reported survey data. The project will involve 300 sub-study participants from the 1600 COVER-MS project participants.

Quest Diagnostics will provide several services to support the research initiative, including SARS-CoV-2 serological IgG antibody and T-Cell testing to determine COVID-19 immune response in the study participants.

In addition, the study will employ a decentralized clinical trial model by which Quest's national network of more than 2,100 patient service centers will enable participants to conveniently provide periodic blood specimens.

This unique collaboration between ACP and its iConquerMS initiative, Quest Diagnostics, and the National MS Society will provide proof-of-concept for a model of decentralized biological studies that is convenient, easy, and economical for researchers and participants alike. This model can be applied to future real-world research studies aiming to enroll a broad cross-section of participants, in terms of geographical location as well as clinical and demographic characteristics.

"We are thrilled to contribute our expertise in neuroimmunology and COVID-19 to this important research effort focused on yielding insight into the unique COVID-19 disease risks facing patients with MS. Quest's national network of patient service centers will enable the research team to ease the process of recruiting and retaining participants, surmounting a major challenge of clinical trials and other scientific research," said Michael Racke, M.D., Medical Director, Neurology, Quest Diagnostics, a renowned expert in neurology who has authored over 200 peer reviewed studies on MS.

Past experience has clearly demonstrated that the medications people take to treat MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immune-mediated inflammatory diseases may affect immune responses to vaccines such as those for influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia. As COVID-19 is likely to remain endemic across the world, it is imperative to understand in detail the effects of, and persistence of responses to, vaccination in people with MS and how best to vaccinate patients who are immunosuppressed, particularly those taking immunomodulatory therapies for their conditions.

The larger COVER-MS project has been operating for a year and is still enrolling participants. Initial results from this study, published this year in Neurology: Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation,1 encompassed local and systemic reactions to vaccine doses. However, it is not known how strong and how persistent an immune response the body actually mounts following multiple vaccine doses over an extended period of time in people with MS treated with different MS medicines. The future effectiveness of these vaccines as COVID-19 variants evolve is also unknown.

This goal of the study is to learn how the number and timing of vaccine doses effects antibody levels and duration in MS patients to help guide recommendations for protecting this vulnerable population.

"As a person with MS who is treated with an immunomodulator that may affect antibody formation, I want to know how well the COVID-19 vaccines promote antibody development and how long they last compared with people who don't have MS," says Phyllis Klein, Ph.D., R.N., Co-Chair of the COVER-MS Steering Committee. "Knowing this could tell us if we need to change intervals between boosters and perhaps eventually help determine the optimal booster dosing for people with MS."



A collaboration has been established between the Accelerated Cure Project for MS, its iConquerMS People-Powered Research Network, Quest Diagnostics, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

A 2-year sub-study of 300 people with MS who are already participating in ACP's COVER-MS project will collect data on the effects of COVID-19 vaccination on people with MS.

Quest Diagnostics will provide laboratory analysis for the study as well as specimen collection through a decentralized clinical trial model utilizing its nationwide network of more than 2,100 patient service centers.

Much more needs to be known about how treatments for MS, which modify the immune system, affect the body's ability to mount an effective response to fight off COVID-19 infection.

Study results may inform guidelines for dosing and timing of vaccines in people taking immunomodulatory therapies.

This unique collaboration will provide a proof-of concept for a convenient and economical method to collect samples for use in research that can be applied to future studies.


Briggs FBS et al. COVID-19 Vaccination Reactogenicity in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm 2022;9:31104.

About Accelerated Cure Project

ACP ( is a patient-founded non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating research efforts to improve the health, healthcare and quality of life of people affected by MS. The organization promotes scientific collaboration and accelerates research by rapidly and cost-effectively providing researchers worldwide with people, data and biosample resources they need to explore novel research ideas that can lead to cures and better care for people living with MS. The major programs of Accelerated Cure Project are the ACP Repository, the iConquerMS™ People-Powered Research Network and the MS Minority Research Engagement Partnership Network.

About the iConquerMS People-Powered Research Network

iConquerMS™ ( is a research initiative by and for people affected by MS who contribute their ideas and their health data. iConquerMS™ was established in 2014 by the Accelerated Cure Project for MS, in partnership with Feinstein Kean Healthcare, now part of Ogilvy, and Arizona State University. Initial funding for iConquerMS™ was provided by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI, Over 8,000 individuals living with MS are currently registered as iConquerMS™ participants, constituting a large and growing cohort for data-driven research into topics that matter most to people affected by MS. iConquerMS™ achieves its purpose, to improve the health, healthcare and quality of life of people affected by MS, through collaborations with U.S. and international academic, government and industry organizations.

About Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics empowers people to take action to improve health outcomes. Derived from the world's largest database of clinical lab results, our diagnostic insights reveal new avenues to identify and treat disease, inspire healthy behaviors and improve health care management. Quest annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and our nearly 50,000 employees understand that, in the right hands and with the right context, our diagnostic insights can inspire actions that transform lives.

About National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or 1-800-344-4867.

About Multiple Sclerosis 

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. There is currently no cure for MS. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from numbness and tingling, to mobility challenges, blindness and paralysis. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50 and it affects women three times more than men. 

Related Links

SOURCE Accelerated Cure Project for MS

Publication Date:
Thursday, September 1, 2022