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Research in Action - February 2019
Research in Action Newsletter
February 2019
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada
Research Profile

Dr. Ana Citlali Marquez recently completed her doctoral degree at the University of British Columbia. She has been funded by the MS Society of Canada for her doctoral work focused in the area of cause and risk factors for MS. The goal of Citlali’s project was to identify how infection with Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) increases the risk of developing MS. More specifically, she infected mice with MS-like disease with a virus similar to EBV to explore how the virus changes the mice’s immune system. “I have been always interested in how people’s environment can influence the onset of disease, in particular, autoimmune diseases,” says Citlali. “MS caught my attention as an object of study because of strong associations that exist between MS and many environmental factors, even if clear connections cannot be established yet.”

While being in a lab can be challenging and research doesn’t always go the way you planned, Citlali still enjoys developing a greater understanding of MS. “Each result brings us a step closer to understanding the development and process of MS and this research will eventually play a role in developing a cure,” says Citlali.

Now that Citlali has completed her doctoral degree, she is excited for the next stage of her career. “I will pursue a postdoctoral fellowship where I will actively apply what I learned during by PhD and continue my preparation towards becoming an independent researcher at an academic institution or with the Canadian government, with a focus on how viral infections lead to the development of autoimmunity,” says Citlali.
Research Events and Funding Opportunities

MS researchers and clinicians gear up for a scientific conference

Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) will welcome researchers, clinicians, and trainees from around the world to Dallas, Texas for the ACTRIMS Forum 2019. The scientific conference, themed “Precision Medicine Approaches for MS: Scientific Principles to Clinical Application,” will take place February 28-March 2, 2019, and will feature presentations from leading MS experts on topics including new therapeutic targets, underlying mechanisms of disease, neuroinflammation, and MS clinical trials. For more information on this meeting, visit the ACTRIMS FORUM 2019 website. The MS Society research team will be on site reporting on the latest research in MS. Tune into the blog for updates on #ACTRIMS and on Twitter at @Dr_KarenLee.

MS Walk and MS Bike gear up for another season!

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 multiple sclerosis. 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.
Research Spotlight

MS-Society funded study finds immune cells from the gut suppress inflammation in animals with MS-like disease

Immune cells have a dual function in MS; some are beneficial while others are harmful. Researchers have discovered that a type of immune cell, called plasma cells, are found in the gut and can travel to the brain to reduce inflammation in a mouse model of MS.

B cells originate in the bone marrow and to have a dual role in MS: some types of B cells are shown to slow disease progression whereas another type has been shown to have harmful inflammatory effects. Where different types of B cells originate from, and how they contribute to MS disease remain unanswered questions. A research team, led by Dr. Jennifer Gommerman, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto, aimed to understand the origins of a type of B cells called plasma cells and their role in MS. The results were recently published in the renowned journal, Cell. For more details, see the MS Update.

Dr. Karen Lee has moved... to the MS Society of Canada blog

For over five years, the goal of Dr. Karen Lee’s blog has been to provide you with an insider’s view on research. This ranged from ground-breaking research to existing studies, introducing you to researchers in the field, and reporting on the MS conferences that she attended. She is excited to continue this journey at the MS Society of Canada blog: Please note that you will NOT be automatically subscribed to her posts at the MS Society blog, so you must go and subscribe. Join her at her new home for all future posts on research.

MS-Society launches a monthly blog series to highlight the next generation of MS researchers. This month we feature Afolasade Fakolade.

The MS Society supports the next generation of MS researchers so that research advances continue and Canada remains a leader in MS research. We have developed a new monthly blog series called Faces Behind the Science to highlight trainees in MS research. Learn more about the inner workings of MS research and get to know the people working behind the scenes to bring us closer to a cure. Subscribe to the blog for more information.

This month we feature Afolasade Fakolade, a postdoctoral fellow from the University of Ottawa. Afolasade’s project will determine if a physical activity intervention changes physical activity levels, mobility, cognition, self-efficacy, caregiver burden, coping and quality of life in people with MS and their caregivers. To learn more about the researcher and her project, visit our blog here.
MS Society Funded Researcher

Dr. Jacqueline Quandt, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia

This month we are featuring Dr. Jacqueline Quandt, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and the Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia. She completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology & Immunology and a PhD in Neuropathology (UBC) studying immune cell recruitment at the level of the blood-brain barrier(BBB). Dr. Quandt completed post-doctoral training at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. She later led an Animal Models Unit where her research focused on novel therapeutics applications to impart immunological tolerance in MS and stroke. Her laboratory continues to focus on the relative contributions of inflammatory cells and mediators to disease development with particular emphasis on novel therapeutics to limit cerebrovascular activation and alterations of the blood-brain barrier, and identification of the neuroprotective pathways relevant to MS and other inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Quandt was awarded a grant of nearly $350,000 to study the molecules that are regulating the destruction of nerve fibers and the death of neurons in MS. Damage to nerve fibers along with degeneration and death of neurons (neurodegeneration) are associated with chronic disability in MS. Dr. Jacqueline Quandt and her research team aim to characterize the role of two molecules with an established role in damage of nerve fibers and neurodegeneration. These molecules have neuroprotective properties, the potential to influence the earliest steps of neurodegeneration at disease onset, as well as the potential to contribute to recovery while limiting progression in MS. Ultimately, Dr. Quandt’s project aims to understand key genes/molecules that protect against pathogenic processes in MS to develop novel therapeutics. Check out the study page here.

Did you know?

The role of the gut microbiome in MS pathogenesis is a rapidly emerging area of study in the MS field. Microorganisms that reside in the gut interact extensively with the immune system, and perturbations of the gut microbiome have been implicated in a number of autoimmune diseases. Multiple lines of evidence indicate that disruptions to the community structure of gut bacteria are linked to disease severity in rodent models of MS. At the same time, people with MS have generally exhibited an intestinal microbiome composition that favours immunogenic over anti-inflammatory taxa of bacteria; this imbalance is partly corrected by treatment with disease-modifying therapies, which suggests a potential role for the gut microbiome in MS. Check out the studies supported by the MS Society on the gut microbiome here.
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:

Development of a Kid-Centered Preference-based Measure of Disability for Children and Adolescents with Multiple Sclerosis: First Steps - Eliciting Domains of Concern from Children and Parents

The purpose of this study is to identify the aspects of their lives affected by MS that children and parents identify as important to their quality of life (QoL), and the priority that they would assign to improving these areas of concern. Children with MS and their parents will be asked to answer a web-based survey on four measures that will be used to identify areas of QOL in pediatric MS that are most concerning and those that are prioritized by this sample for improvement. The data will be used to develop the content for a patient-reported outcome measure of MS impact for children with MS. For more information, visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.

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