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Research in Action

October 2016
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada

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Research Profile

MS Ambassador, Amanda Piron

Amanda Piron
Guest-speaker, Ambassador, Inspirational Champion and peer-support leader are just a few of the many ways in which Amanda Piron contributes her time to the MS Society and gives back to the MS community. “I am motivated by my almost 10 year journey living with relapsing-remitting MS,” says Amanda. “My four cousins also have MS and are so brave. They inspire me along with all of the people affected by MS that I have had the chance to meet and develop strong friendships with.” Amanda began speaking openly about her MS when she was 17 years old, and she was the only young person she knew with MS. “I hated the feeling of growing up and feeling alone about having MS. One of the main reasons I got involved with the MS Society was to have a conversation with someone who was like me in terms of my age and diagnosis.”

In addition to the relationships she has built, Amanda also values research and its importance to people with MS. “For someone with MS, research is powerful, empowering. Speaking as a person with MS, research gives me hope that one day I will stop saying ‘I have MS’ and start saying ‘I had MS.’” Amanda is most interested in genetics, “The work of Dr. Dessa Sadovnick is very relevant to me because of my family history,” says Amanda. “I am also interested in stem cells, exercise and anything that will help treat progressive MS. I enjoy hearing about updates from ECTRIMS, and I found the recent study on bacteria in the gut both relevant and interesting.”

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

Hack4Health 2.0

The University of Waterloo will be hosting Hack4Health (H4H) 2.0 from November 4 — 6, 2016 in partnership with the MS Society and Alzheimer Society. H4H 2.0 will provide an exciting space for the creation of practical applications (software, hardware, and social solutions) for people living with MS and Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The event follows on the success of last year’s inaugural event, in which team TeraBio Solutions (TBS) were awarded $15,000 from the MS Society to develop a wearable device for people living with MS to improve wellness and manage symptoms. Follow along on Twitter (@Dr_KarenLee), MS Society Facebook page and the research blog for updates at the event.

Contract Research Organization (CRO) Grant: New Timeline

Last month, the MS Society of Canada launched a new funding competition that invites MS researchers to apply for funding for specialized services and experiments provided by contract research organizations (CROs), with the aim of advancing pre-clinical development of treatments for progressive MS. This is now an open competition with no set deadline. Interested candidates can submit an application at any time unless otherwise stated. For more information, consult the CRO Grant Request for Applications.

Diet and Multiple Sclerosis: A Neurologist's Perspective

The National MS Society, in partnership with Can Do MS, are hosting a webinar and telelearning series on diet and MS with featured speaker Dr. Pavan Bhargava (John’s Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore), a world-leading expert on the topic. Join the webinar on November 8 (8:00-9:15pm ET) to hear Dr. Bhargava explain the impact of diet on MS and offer evidence around some popular dietary strategies. Visit the event registration page to register for the webinar.

93rd Annual Conference of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM)

This year’s American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine is being held in Chicago from October 30 — November 4. The conference is dedicated to serving people with disabling conditions, and will host rehabilitation professionals — a global community of both researchers and consumers of research — who support research promoting health, independence, productivity as well as quality of life. Visit the conference website for more details.

Research Spotlight

Preliminary findings could make rebooting the immune system using stem cell transplantation safer as an MS treatment in the future

Mouse stem cells. Image Credit: Creative Commons
The results of the Canadian Bone Marrow Transplantation Trial were a significant milestone for MS treatments after demonstrating that rebooting the immune system with a combination of chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation could halt brain inflammation, and, for some, reverse certain MS-related disability. However, the procedure carries significant risk due to the high dose of chemotherapy necessary to destroy an individual’s existing immune system. A team from Stanford University have experimented with a non-chemotherapy approach to this procedure that could one day make this stem cell treatment safer for a wider range of people living with MS.

To read more about this study and other groundbreaking research, visit the Latest MS Research News on the MS Society website.

Did You Know?

The MS Society and its affiliated MS Scientific Research Foundation are currently funding another stem cell clinical trial: MEsenchymal Stem cell therapy for CAnadian MS patients (MESCAMS). The study is evaluating the safety and efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells as an experimental treatment for MS. For further information, please visit the Research Portal.

Research Online

The dust may have settled from the 32nd European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) Congress in London, UK, but the research blog has been a flurry of activity recounting some of the most significant updates from the conference. Check out Dr. Karen Lee’s takeaways from the conference, including the latest breakthroughs in remyelination, wellness and symptom management, imaging, new biomarkers, real-world treatment comparisons, and clinical trial results.

Last week, Peter Schwarz-Lam from the research department sat down with Becky Mitts from the events team to talk about Tour of Champions and how the money raised by our generous supporters for events like MS Bike is making a difference in MS research. Check out their interview and other research content on the MS Society Facebook page.

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. If you are a researcher looking to post a study, or if you are a person affected by MS who would like to take part in a study, visit

  • A tool called Managing My MS measure (MYMS) has been developed by a team from Queen’s University to evaluate the effectiveness of a self-management program for people with MS. The team is recruiting participants to the study to evaluate the validity and repeatability of the MYMS measure. Click here to read more about how to participate in the study.
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