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Research in Action - April 2018
Research in Action Newsletter
April 2018
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada
Research Profile

Ellie Doroshenko is no stranger to multiple sclerosis(MS). Her grandmother was diagnosed with the chronic illness over twenty years ago. Then just over five years ago, Ellie’s sister was diagnosed as well, and this is what ultimately motivated her to become a researcher in MS.

Ellie was awarded the Master’s Studentship and is performing research in Dr. Shannon Dunn’s lab at the University of Toronto. Her project focuses on microglia--immune cells found in the brain and spinal cord-- and how they act within a mouse model of MS-like disease. When microglia encounter inflammation caused by MS, they produce molecules that are anti-inflammatory in nature to restore balance in this environment. One such molecule is known as PPARδ. Ellie’s project focuses on what happens when PPARδ is absent in microglial cells, and how this impacts mice with MS-like disease. She says, “We’re hoping that the results of this study may provide new insights into disease management strategies for MS while also advancing knowledge of the disease’s biology.”

When asked about what she enjoys most about working in a lab she says, “… no two days are alike a week can involve performing various experiments, analyzing data, reading up on the latest research in my field and meeting with my supervisor to discuss next steps.” Ellie also has both a personal and professional motivation to advance research in MS. “… my family keeps me motivated, absolutely. But so too does the position I am in as a graduate student. I feel a sense of responsibility to ask meaningful research questions and execute thoughtful and well-designed experiments to try to answer those questions.”

We wish Ellie the best of luck with her project!
Research Events and Funding Opportunities

Canada prepares for MS Walk and MS Bike to raise funds for research and programs!

The MS Society’s MS Walk and Bike season are upon us. Every spring thousands of Canadians come together in their communities to fundraise for and participate in MS Walk and MS Bike. They take a stand against MS and support those who are affected by MS. Take the next step and join us as we work to build a more hopeful future for Canadians living with MS. Visit the MS Walk and MS Bike page for more information.

MS Society of Canada poised to feature research and researchers for May Awareness Month and World MS Day

The theme for World MS Day (May 30) 2018 is #BringingUsCloser. The overall aim of this campaign is to bring people affected by MS closer to those involved in MS research and to create a better understanding of complex research processes. We will be jumping on this theme for MS Awareness Month as well, with a special research focus throughout the month. This theme is inclusive for people living with MS, their caregivers, friends, and family and it provides us the opportunity to talk about the MS Society’s research progress and funding.

Throughout May, we’ll be using our own approach to storytelling with a focus on telling the MS research story through videos, researcher profiles, and stories of individuals affected by MS who have benefitted from research (whether through treatments or wellness practices).

Stay tuned on our social media channels for the following: (1) Researcher profiles that introduce you to researchers across Canada; (2) Facebook live video of a "lab tour", where a researcher takes the social media audience through a live tour of their lab through a fun and entertaining platform, while communicating the type of research they have been engaging in; (3) Research timeline graphics that will show the research that has developed through the ages to modern day; and (4) An "Instagram takeover" with the theme "A day in the life of a researcher", which will help our audiences put a face to researchers, while sharing informative content on what they do. So check out the MS Society Facebook and Instagram throughout the month of May!
Research Spotlight

International stem cell clinical trial shows stabilized disease and improved disability in MS

Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) is an aggressive procedure which involves collecting stem cells from an individual’s own bone marrow and then exposing them to chemotherapy to deplete the immune system. The stem cells are then reintroduced into the body where they mature into new immune cells. In multiple sclerosis, the goal for this type of transplant is to reboot the immune system which is thought to be causing damage the nerve cells in MS. Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University in Chicago and a team of researchers conducted an international trial of AHSCT with 110 people with active relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). The results of this study were recently reported at the European Society for Bone and Marrow Transplantation in Lisbon. Read results of the trial here.

Results published from a phase III study of siponimod in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS)

Pharmaceutical company, Novartis, released findings from EXPAND, a double-blind, randomized phase III study of oral, once-daily siponimod in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) recently published in the renowned journal The Lancet. A commentary, by Dr. Luanne Metz and Wei-Qiau Liu (University of Calgary), on the results of the trial was also published in The Lancet. For results of the trial, check out the news update.

Mouse study highlights brain stem cells as a potential personalized treatment for progressive MS

Recent research efforts have been devoted to treating the inflammation found in progressive MS using stem cell therapies. Stem cells are a unique group of cells that can develop into virtually any cell type found within the body. Particularly, neural stem cells (NSCs) stem cells that develop into nerve cells have been shown to improve central nervous system (CNS) inflammation in animal models of MS. A research team led by Dr. Stefano Pluchino at the University of Cambridge sought to discover how NSC transplantation influences chronic MS using a mouse model of the disease. The group published their findings in Cell Stem Cell. Read the research news update here.

MS Society Funded Research

This month we are featuring a project led by Dr. Craig Moore, an Assistant Professor of Neurosciences at Memorial University. Dr. Moore obtained his Ph.D. from Dalhousie University and went on to post-doctorate training in Multiple Sclerosis with Drs. Amit Bar-Or and Jack Antel. Dr. Moore was selected to be part of the MS Society funded endMS Scholar Program for Researchers in Training (SPRINT) in 2011. He came full circle by being a mentor in the 2016-2017 SPRINT program and supporting the next generation of leading MS researchers. His research interests lie in neuroimmunology, inflammation, and glial cell differentiation in MS.

Dr. Moore was awarded nearly $350,000 in the 2016-2017 Annual Competition to carry out a project studying specific molecules called microRNAs, which are potential new targets for progressive MS treatment. Found in both brain and immune cells, microRNAs play an important role in controlling inflammation and tissue repair in the damaged brain. The Moore lab discovered one microRNA molecule in particular-called mir223- to be important in promoting repair in MS. To characterize the role of mir-223 in detail, the Moore lab is growing cells in a dish and treating them with mir-223 to determine the change in the levels of inflammatory signals. Future work from this lab aims to investigate the role of mir-223 in animal models of MS. Dr. Moore hopes that this research will identify a novel target that could be further explored for treating both relapsing and progressive forms of MS.

Did you know?

The MS Society of Canada is looking for volunteers to help with scientific writing. Volunteers will be involved in a number of research communications initiatives focused on enhancing awareness and dissemination of information on MS Society research. Interested volunteers must have strong written communication skills, along with the ability to write using scientific and technical language and broad knowledge of basic science terms and research methodologies. Interested? Contact
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 month, this section will highlight a select study hosted on the Portal. This month’s feature study is:

Canadian MS Pregnancy Prospective Cohort Study (CANPREG-MS).

MS is the most commonly acquired neurological disorder affecting adults of reproductive age. This 5-year study emerged in response to an increasing need for women with MS for evidence-based, up-to-date, and personalized information surrounding reproductive issues and childbearing. The researchers will establish a prospective CANPREG-MS study that will identify pregnancies in women with MS, obtain information on the disease and the medications used for MS treatment at conception, during gestation (pregnancy) and while breastfeeding if appropriate. The study is looking for women with a confirmed diagnosis of MS aged 18 or older who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. For more information please visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.
In Other MS News...
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