MS Society of Canada MS Society of Canada
Research in Action - March 2021
Research in Action Newsletter
March 2021
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada

Dr. Catherine Larochelle

The MS Society of Canada welcomes Dr. Catherine Larochelle as a new member of the Medical Advisory Committee. Dr. Larochelle is a staff neurologist at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), and since 2016 a clinical assistant professor and a researcher at the CHUM research center (CRCHUM), in the Neurosciences department.As a neurologist, she cares for people affected by MS. As a scientist, her research program focuses on the contribution of the peripheral immune system to neuroglial dysfunction in neuroinflammatory disorders such as MS. The ultimate goal of her research program is to identify immune mechanisms contributing to chronic CNS neuroglial dysfunction in order to open new therapeutic avenues to alleviate immune-mediated neuroglial injury.
News & Events

Call for Community Representatives:

In April, the MS Society is opening a call for community representatives to serve on review committees for the annual research competition. Community Representatives are people who have a personal connection to MS, and thus are able to comment on how the research will influence their day to day living and what the outcomes of the research mean to them and the broader MS community. Through the engagement of Community Representatives in the review process, the MS Society aims to provide a venue for people affected by MS to have their voices heard in the research we fund, while at the same time have the opportunity to learn more about the ongoing research that is happening in Canada. More information will be provided in April on how to apply.

For updates, please refer to this link.
Treatment Updates

Health Canada approves Kesimpta® (ofatumumab) in adults with relapsing-remitting MS with active disease

Ofatumumab was approved by Health Canada for the treatment of adults with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) with active disease defined by clinical and imaging features.

Ofatumumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds to CD20 and destroys targeted B cells. B cells are among immune cells that have been implicated in causing damage to the central nervous system in MS.

Research Updates

Neuregulin-1 beta 1: A potential early disease marker and targeted treatment for multiple sclerosis

New findings from Dr. Soheila Karimi’s research group at the University of Manitoba provide compelling evidence for the involvement of Neuregulin-1 beta 1 (Nrg-1β1) in MS pathology. Nrg-1β1 is a critical protein for neural cells and myelin in the central nervous system. Dr. Karimi’s research team has discovered reduced levels of Nrg-1β1 protein in demyelinating lesions and plasma of mice with MS-like disease (i.e. experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or EAE mice). They further confirmed a decline in Nrg-1β1 in individuals with early MS (clinically isolated syndrome) and is associated with subsequent progression to relapsing-remitting MS. Interestingly, by providing Nrg-1β1 as a therapy, it was able to delay disease onset and alleviate disease progression and neurological impairment in EAE mice.



BioNTech is applying mRNA vaccine technology to treat multiple sclerosis

BioNTech, a German biotechnology company that is working with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, reports that they are using the same technology to develop a therapeutic approach to multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers treated mice with MS-like disease, termed experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or ‘EAE mice’, with a specialized messenger RNA (called m1Ψ mRNA) coding for MS disease-related autoantigens as an approach to prevent the immune system from attacking myelin, and found they could suppress or reduce the severity of MS-like disease. More research is needed to translate this therapeutic approach into humans.


For more information on this breakthrough research, listen to the Global News Radio interview with Dr. Mark Freedman.

Alliance-funded study shows that stem cells derived from skin cells of people with MS make normal nerve-insulating myelin

An international research team headed by Dr. Anne Baron-Van Evercooren (INSERM, Paris), in collaboration with Dr. Tanja Kuhlmann (University Hospital Münster), Dr. Jack Antel (McGill University, Montreal), and Dr. Gianvito Martino (San Raffaele Hospital and Vita San Raffaele University, Milan) published results that open new possibilities for developing ways to repair myelin in people with multiple sclerosis.

Get Involved in a Research Study

The MS Research Portal is a resource provided by the MS Society of Canada that aims to connect Canadian researchers seeking participants for studies with people affected by MS who want to get involved in research. Each edition will highlight a select study hosted on the Portal. This month’s feature study is:

Understanding Needs for Exercise Engagement in Nonambulatory People with Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers at the University of Ottawa are seeking male and female volunteers to participate in a voluntary study investigating the exercise needs of people with multiple sclerosis who use wheelchair and/or scooters for mobility. The study will be conducted in English. Volunteers living in Canada, over the age of 18,diagnosed with MS and use a wheelchair as their primary method of mobility, may qualify. The study would involve an online survey that would take approximately30 minutes to complete. Eligible volunteers will be compensated with a $10 online Amazon gift card for completing the survey. The survey may be accessed with this link:

For additional information and details to participate in the study, please visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.

Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in Multiple Sclerosis (CanProCo) is still recruiting!

CanProCo is an observational study of different factors thought to play a role in MS disease progression. Bringing together several fields of study is a powerful way to assess different aspects of progression in MS leading to: a better understanding of the biological mechanisms of progression, identification of risk factors for progression, development of biomarkers to monitor progression and predict treatment response, and inform strategies to improve the lives of people living with MS.

Who can participate:
  • Adults aged 18 to 60 years
  • Diagnosis of radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) OR
  • Disease onset of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) within the last 10 years OR
  • Disease onset of primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) within the last 15 years
  • Able to ambulate (walk) at least 100 meters independently, or using a walking aid
In particular, adults aged 18-60 years with disease onset of primary progressive MS (PPMS) within 10 years and those with diagnosis of radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) are needed.

There are sites in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. For additional information and details to participate in the study, please visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.

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