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December 2015
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada
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Table of Contents

Research Profiles

Dr. Anthony FeinsteinProfessor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Chair of the MS Society of Canada’s Medical Advisory Committee and recipient of the prestigious Peabody Award are just a few of Dr. Anthony Feinstein’s accolades. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Dr. Feinstein acquired his neuropsychiatry training in the United Kingdom. With support from operating grants from the MS Society of Canada, Dr. Feinstein has focused his research towards methods for assessing cognitive deficits in people living with MS.

Currently, Dr. Feinstein has turned his attention to improving wellbeing and overall quality of life for individuals living with progressive MS. “Given that disease modifying treatments are not effective in people with chronic-progressive MS, treatment is confined to good symptom management,” says Dr. Feinstein. Having recently been awarded a planning grant funded by the International Progressive MS Alliance, Dr. Feinstein will have the opportunity to explore a “…novel therapeutic idea; namely, that combined approaches (cognitive rehabilitation and exercise) may prove more beneficial for progressive MS than individual treatments alone.” Aided by the collaborative efforts of an international team of researchers, Dr. Feinstein will test whether this combined rehabilitative strategy can improve physical and cognitive function in people living with progressive form of MS. Overall, Dr. Feinstein remains a global leader in the field of neuropsychiatry and continues to help people living with MS cope with the emotional and mental challenges that often come with the disease.

More information on Dr. Anthony Feinstein’s research articles, books and acclaimed documentary can be found at the Sunnybook Research Institute.

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

MS Society will soon be accepting applications for endMS Summer School and SPRINT

The MS Society’s 8th annual endMS Summer School will be hosted in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia, June 13-16, 2016. The theme of the 2016 endMS Summer School is “The Evolving Art and Science of MS Care”. Application opens Monday December 14 until Friday February 12. Visit the endMS Summer School website for updates. The MS Society is also offering the Scholar Program for Researchers IN Training (SPRINT), which eligible trainees can apply for until Monday February 8. Visit the SPRINT website for details.

The International Progressive MS Alliance meets with industry professionals

On December 3rd and 4th, the International Progressive MS Alliance convened in Bethesda, Maryland to identify important progressive MS research gaps and determine how the Alliance will work collaboratively with industry partners, academic experts and regulators in advancing its mission to speed up the development of treatments for progressive MS.

Donations for MS research and programs will be matched until December 31

Every dollar that is generously donated will be matched from now until the end of the year. If you would like to support MS-focused research and programs, visit the MS Society’s website and learn more about how you can double the impact of your gift. Also, as a small gesture of appreciation, the MS Society is sharing personal thank you videos from funded researchers and clinicians. Visit the MS Society’s Facebook page to check them out.

Hosting an MS research event in your community? Submit it to msresearchgrants@mssociety.ca to be featured in Research in Action!

MS Updates

A molecular switch that prevents “good” immune cells from turning “bad” identified by MS Society-funded postdoctoral fellow

Credits: cea + / CCA certain type of T cell — called TH17 — is a leading agent in the inflammatory attack against myelin that is a hallmark of multiple sclerosis, but under normal conditions it can be beneficial in preventing infection. MS Society-funded postdoctoral fellow Dr. Chao Wang (Harvard Medical School) and a team of researchers set out to identify molecules unique to either harmful or helpful versions of TH17 cells to determine whether it’s possible to turn off the bad features. They discovered a protein called CD5L, which acts as a molecular “switch” that can help to keep beneficial immune cells from being led astray and leading to disease. Read more…

MS Society of Canada-funded researcher uncovers a protein that keeps inflammatory cells in check

Microglia are specialized immune cells found only in the brain and spinal cord of the central nervous system (CNS); although beneficial in a healthy immune system, microglia are also involved in the autoimmune response that lies at the heart of MS. A team of researchers, led by MS Society-funded investigator Dr. Denis Gris (University of Sherbrooke), has identified a protein that sits on the surface of microglial cells and regulates this inflammatory process; specifically, it acts as a barrier that keeps the microglia’s pro-inflammatory properties at bay. Read more…

MS Scientific Research Foundation funds study “From bugs to brains: the gut microbiome in pediatric multiple sclerosis”

Credits: Daniel Mietchen / CCBeyond its role in digestion, the lush community of bacteria living inside our intestines — dubbed the gut microbiome — has a profound impact on health and disease. In particular, researchers have established a link between the gut microbiome and multiple sclerosis. A new collaborative research study, led by Dr. Helen Tremlett (The University of British Columbia) will explore the role of the gut microbiome in partnership with the recently launched multi-centre, collaborative pediatric MS study funded by the MS Scientific Research Foundation. Read more…

In Other MS News…

Research Blog

In the latest Research Decoder, MS Society Vice-President, Research Dr. Karen Lee dives into the world of the microscopic critters that inhabit our gut — dubbed the gut microbiome. Maintaining a healthy community of gut microbes is essential for promoting good health, while disruption of this delicate balance is thought to play a role in various diseases, including multiple sclerosis. In her post, Dr. Lee demystifies the gut microbiome: what it does, how researchers can study it, and what kind of research — including important work being done by MS Society-funded researchers — is taking place to expose the link between the gut microbiome and MS.

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