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March 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, Researcher and Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) Awardee Recipient: Dr. Veronique Miron

Dr. Veronique Miron
Dr. Veronique Miron

Motivated by a family connection to progressive MS, Dr. Veronique Miron understands the urgent need for therapies for this debilitating form of the disease. The lack of treatment options is what fueled her passion to carry out research in MS, and pursue her PhD and Postdoctoral studies in understanding remyelination. Her success and development in academia has been strongly supported by the MS Society of Canada, particularly during her years as a postdoc when she was awarded a Fellowship from the MS Society. Moreover, the MS Society provided networking opportunities, such as the endMS Conferences, where Dr. Miron was able to build lasting relationships with her peers and other MS research collaborators. This inevitably helped secure her academic position at the University of Edinburgh as Lecturer and Principal Investigator.

Through a partnership between the MS Society and Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), Dr. Miron was one of two principal investigators selected for research funding for her research in progressive MS. Specifically, Dr. Miron is focused on a protein called activin-A cell receptor which, if targeted therapeutically, may promote remyelination. Dr. Miron hopes to utilize the resources available at CDRD to conduct a large-scale screen of thousands of molecules, to seek out compounds that can stimulate the protein and remote repair. “As CDRD helps bring discoveries from the lab into clinical development in industry, we believe that this project will help identify molecules that can lead to new effective therapies to promote myelin repair in MS.” More information about her project is available under Latest MS Research News on the website.

To read the full transcript of the MS Society’s interview with Dr. Miron, click here.

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

Save the Date! 2016 endMS Conference announced

The MS Society of Canada announced that the 2016 endMS Conference will take place December 6-9, 2016 at the Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel in Toronto, ON. This national research conference, which takes place every three years, brings together over 250 researchers and clinicians to collaborate and facilitate knowledge exchange in the MS field. The event will include scientific lectures, poster presentations, trainee workshops, and keynote presentations from renowned international MS experts. More information and registration will be available on the MS Society’s website shortly.

Research panel at Queen’s University hosts education event on MS symptom management.

On March 16, researchers at Queen’s University School of Kinesiology and Health Studies in Kingston, ON will host an educational event that informs people living with MS on ways they can their manage symptoms through approaches like physical activity, adaptive mobility and fatigue management. The panel includes MS Society-funded researchers Dr. Marcia Finlayson and Dr. Etienne Bisson. No registration is required. See the MS Society’s website for details.

Curious about the therapeutic potential of stem cells?

The Ontario Institute of Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) will be delivering free public education sessions on stem cells in various cities across Canada. If you want to know more about stem cells, stem cell research, treatment involving stem cells, and stem cell tourism, then join OIRM and experts in the stem cell and regenerative medicine field for the following information sessions:

MS Updates

MS Society-funded study explores ‘nanoparticles’ as a potential therapeutic strategy in mice with an MS-like disease

Credits: Clemente-Cesares et al.
Credits: Clemente-Cesares et al.

A key priority in MS research is to develop ways of specifically targeting the disease-causing immune cells while leaving the general immune system intact to fight infection. Research being conducted by Dr. Pere Santamaria (University of Calgary) is exploring a new class of drugs — termed ‘nanoparticles’ — that work by targeting and reprogramming disease-causing white blood cells to blunt their harmful activity. In their latest paper published in Nature, Dr. Santamaria and his team investigated the ability of nanoparticle therapy to reduce disease activity in mice with an MS-like disease. Read more…

FDA grants ‘breakthrough therapy’ designation for Genentech’s experimental therapy ocrelizumab in primary progressive MS

Based on promising results from ORATORIO, a phase III clinical trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of the B cell-targeting therapy ocrelizumab, the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA) has fast-tracked the review and approvals process of ocrelizumab. This is potentially good news for people living with primary progressive MS, for which there are currently no approved treatments. Read more…

MS Society-funded doctoral student shows how child’s brain can adapt to damage in pediatric-onset MS

In adults living with MS, disruption of the myelin-rich regions of the brain leads to reduced connectivity between brain regions, leading to deficits in cognitive ability. In children living with MS, cognitive impairment appears to progress at a much slower pace compared to in adults. As part of an earlier doctoral project supported by the MS Society, Dr. Nadine Akbar used advanced imaging techniques to map out connections in the brain of children living with MS to demonstrate how the child’s brain can adapt to MS-related damage and maintain cognitive function. Read more…

In Other MS News…

Research Blog

Join MS Society Vice-President, Research Dr. Karen Lee on the Research Blog as she recounts the research team’s experiences at the 2016 Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum. The theme of this year’s conference was “Progressive MS: From Bench to Bedside and Back”, placing a heavy emphasis on research in progressive MS ranging from basic laboratory experiments to translational research and clinical trials. Among the more divisive research questions to be debated at the Forum was the question of whether inflammation, neurodegeneration (the gradual death of nerve cells), or a combination of the two are responsible for driving disability progression. Dr. Lee breaks down the evidence and presents both sides of this debate; ultimately, answering these questions will lead to new biomarkers for identifying those at risk of progressing along with new treatments to combat progressive MS.

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