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February 2016
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada
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Table of Contents

Research Profiles

MS Society of Canada, 2016 Biomedical Community Representative: Derek Milloy

Photo courtesy of The Province of BC: The MS society’s Janet Palm (center) awards Derek Milloy the national Opal Award for Caregivers. He was nominated by Linda McGowan (in wheelchair).
Photo courtesy of The Province of BC: The MS society’s Janet Palm (center) awards Derek Milloy the national Opal Award for Caregivers. He was nominated by Linda McGowan (in wheelchair).

Every year the Research Department gets inspired by the personal stories from the community representatives who are chosen to participate in the review meetings for the MS Society's Annual Research Competition. One of these stories belongs to Derek Milloy, an elementary teacher from Burnaby, BC, musician and community representative on the 2016 Biomedical Research Review Committee. Following his wife’s diagnosis, Derek has been avidly involved with the MS Society, volunteering his time as a musician for MS Walks in Vancouver. Committed to raising awareness of MS, Derek continues to volunteer after his wife’s passing and was recognized for his work with the MS Society BC and Yukon Division Opal Award.

In spite of the challenges that Derek and his wife faced, Derek has always been motivated to do more. “I have felt and shared in the hardships and the frustration presented by the unique puzzle MS presents to everyone it touches. I’d like to help untangle that puzzle by supporting research and MS Society programs”. It is this interest, coupled with his involvement with the MS Society and the greater MS community, which encouraged Derek to participate as a community representative in the review.

When asked about his experience, Derek said, “It is a pleasant and positive, but serious and focused discussion among experts about the potential of each proposal, its merits and limitations. The efficiency of the process, thanks to the organization of MS Society staff and the advance preparation of all parties, ensured that plenty of time was available for all voices to be heard and for there to be thorough discussion.” Understanding the steps of the review process while having the opportunity to voice a personal perspective is essential to the MS Society and the community representatives. Derek now has “a new appreciation of how difficult it is for proposals to get funding, and he “sees progress in areas where there once seemed to be none.” The MS Society thanks Derek and all of the community representatives of their time and commitment to the annual review.

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

MS researchers and clinicians great up for scientific conference

Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) will welcome researchers, clinicians, and trainees from around the world to New Orleans, Louisiana for ACTRIMS Forum 2016. The scientific conference will take place February 18-20, and will feature presentations from leading MS experts on topics including progressive MS, neuroinflammation, underlying disease mechanisms, and MS clinical trials. The MS Society’s research team will be in New Orleans to capture all of cutting-edge research discoveries and treatment updates in real time. Follow along on the research blog www.drkarenlee.ca and Twitter (@Dr_KarenLee) to check out the latest during ACTRIMS!

MS Updates

MS Society funds two new studies poised to bring laboratory discoveries one step closer to becoming treatments for progressive MS

Credit: CDRD
Credit: CDRD

While the pace of research aimed at investigating MS disease mechanisms and discovering new therapeutic targets has pushed forward, translating these findings into safe and effective therapies that will have a meaningful impact on the lives of people living with MS has proven to be a challenge. The MS Society, together with the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) in Vancouver, BC has risen to the occasion and announced funding for two highly innovative projects to take promising disease targets to the next level and nudge them into the treatment pipeline. Read more…

MS Society-funded study shows that nicotine reduces the invasion of harmful immune cells into the brain in mice with an MS-like disease

Mounting evidence suggests that smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis and may even accelerate disease progression. On the other hand, nicotine, the ingredient in tobacco responsible for its addictive properties, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties when studied separately from the other ingredients of smoked tobacco. Dr. Alain Simard (Université de Moncton) recently conducted a study to determine whether nicotine can counter the pro-inflammatory effects of disease-causing immune cells in mice with an MS-like disease. Read more…

Scientists test the feasibility of using smartphones to study and monitor MS

Modern smartphones are equipped with an array of sophisticated sensors and can store incredible amounts of data, making them potentially powerful research tools. Now, researchers are hoping to harness this ever-present technology to help them better study multiple sclerosis in the “real world”. A research team, headed by Dr. Philip De Jager at Harvard Medical School, has begun testing the feasibility of deploying smartphones installed with specialized apps to follow individuals living with MS. Read more…

In Other MS News…

Research Blog

The review meetings for the MS Society's Annual Research Competition took place during the week of January 18, where over 150 MS research grants and trainee award applications were reviewed by research and clinical experts, as well as community members affected by MS. MS Society Vice-President, Research Dr. Karen Lee shares her impressions of the review meetings on the Research Blog, highlighting in particular the time and energy put in by the reviewers to discuss each proposal and ensure that research dollars go towards the best projects with the greatest potential impact for people affected by MS. Dr. Lee gave a special shout-out to this year’s community representatives, whose hard work and dedication ensures that the voices of people affected by MS are captured and relayed to applicants to help shape their research.

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