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April 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 endMS Doctoral Studentship Recipient: Afolasade Fakolade

Afolasade Fakolade
Afolasade Fakolade

Although a relative newcomer to the field of multiple sclerosis (MS) research, Ms. Afolasade Fakolade is no stranger to research into the benefits of physical activity for neurodegenerative diseases. With an Honours Bachelor of Medical Rehabilitation in Physiotherapy from the Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria) and a Master’s of Science degree in Neurorehabilitation from Cardiff University (Wales, UK) under her belt, Afolasade began to piece together her research project in MS under the supervision of Dr. Marcia Finlayson at Queen’s University. The aim of her project, which earned her an endMS Doctoral Studentship in 2014, is to determine the need for a physical activity program that supports joint engagement of people with moderate to severe MS and their family caregivers.

Afolasade’s project uses a unique approach towards understanding how a physical activity program can provide benefit and overall support to people living with MS. When asked about what sets her study apart, Afolasade says that her research will help to “set the stage for the development of a leisure-time physical activity program that supports joint engagement of people with moderate to severe MS and their family caregivers”. This is a particularly important priority since few studies to date have included those with moderate to severe MS and their family caregivers as co-participants.

Although managing any research project can have many challenges, Afolasade chooses to focus on the rewards. “It’s been really rewarding meeting and conducting focus groups with people living with MS and their family caregivers, to explore and understand their perspectives of physical activity and the challenges they face while trying to be physically active,” she says. Looking forward, Afolasade believes that her research project holds promise to change the way physical activity interventions are offered to people with moderate to severe MS.

New insights into how physical activity interventions provide MS-related benefits are one of several topics about wellness on the minds of people affected by MS. To learn what the MS community is saying about their wellness priorities and challenges, check out the results of the MS Society’s MS Wellness Survey.

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

MS Scientific Research Foundation (MSSRF) launches Wellness Innovation Grant competition

The MSSRF invites academic investigators, as well as groups and individuals involved in wellness, including health care professionals, community-based organizations, technology companies, etc., to apply for up to $40,000 in Wellness Innovation Grants. The purpose of the grant is to stimulate research and development of wellness solutions that will improve health and quality of life of people living with MS. Applications must include people affected by MS in their research design, as well as address feedback gathered in the MS Wellness Survey. Read the full Request for Applications for details.

MSSRF Multi-Centre, Collaborative Team Grant Competition now open

The MSSRF is accepting Letters of Intent (LOIs) for the 2016 MSSRF Team Grant Competition. Due to an urgent unmet need for fundamental knowledge and accelerated development of safe and effective therapies for progressive MS, MSSRF encourages those investigators who are conducting progressive MS research that has translational capacity to apply for this funding opportunity. As well, a donor has committed funding for the University of British Columbia (UBC), and thus MSSRF encourages investigators at UBC to consider submitting applications for which they are listed as lead Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator/participating study site (this is not a requirement to apply). Additional information regarding eligibility and application requirements can be found on the MS Society’s website.

MS Society’s research team to report live from American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting

The 2016 AAN Meeting will take place April 15-21 in Vancouver, BC. The annual, week-long scientific conference brings together over 10,000 researchers, clinicians, young investigators, industry representatives and individuals from patient advocacy groups to discuss the latest research and treatment advances in a broad range of neurological diseases including MS. The MS Society’s research team, including Vice-President Dr. Karen Lee, will provide live updates throughout the event. Follow along on Twitter (@Dr_KarenLee) and the research blog to hear the latest on topics like clinical trials, risk factors, novel animal models of MS, neurodegeneration, neuroprotection and many more.

MS Updates

Pilot study takes a first step towards understanding how bacteria in the gut influence childhood MS

gut bacteria
Credits: Hey Paul Studios / CC BY 2.0

The bacteria living in our gut —?our gut’s microbiome?— and our immune system are inextricably linked: the microbiome can influence the immune system, while the immune system keeps the microbiome in check. Children are believed to be uniquely vulnerable to certain shifts in the makeup of the gut microbiome that can lead to increased inflammation and, in some cases, development of diseases like multiple sclerosis. Dr. Helen Tremlett (University of British Columbia) conducted a pilot study to explore the relationship between gut bacteria and MS in children and adolescents. Read more…

MS Society funded researcher answers important questions surrounding comorbidities and multiple sclerosis

Many people living with MS may also be affected by other chronic diseases. When someone is living with more than one condition, those conditions are termed “comorbidities”. Some important unresolved questions related to comorbidity and MS that researchers asking include: how do comorbidities impact MS-related treatment and quality of life in people living with MS. MS Society Dr. Donald Paty Career Development Award and Operating Grant holder Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie (University of Manitoba) and colleagues published a series of research articles that address these urgent questions. Read more…

Study examines interactions between physical and emotional wellbeing in those with multiple sclerosis

Credits: Alyssa L. Miller / CC BY 2.0

Beneath the readily visible symptoms of multiple sclerosis such as muscle weakness and tremors lay a wide range of hidden symptoms that can be equally debilitating. An international team of researchers set out to identify possible relationships between physical wellbeing and various hidden MS-related symptoms, including cognitive disability, depression, pain, sleep disorders and fatigue. The researchers also aimed to uncover potential risk factors influencing these MS-related symptoms. Read more…

In Other MS News…

Research Blog

In the summer of 2015, the MS Society of Canada asked people affected by MS to fill in the MS Wellness Survey, an online questionnaire designed to capture the voices of people living with MS about their needs, practices, and gaps related to nutrition, physical activity and emotional wellbeing. The survey received a remarkable response from the MS community, and full results of the survey were recently published on the MS Society’s website.

On the research blog, Vice-President of Research Dr. Karen Lee hashes out the details about how the MS Wellness Survey has breathed life into a new set of research initiatives focused on wellness and MS. Among these are the Hack4Health collaboration with University of Waterloo, and the newly launched Wellness Research Innovation Grant. This latter initiative is designed to connect researchers, clinicians and health professionals, community-based organizations, technology innovators, decision-makers and the public in an effort to harness their combined expertise and creativity and develop new wellness solutions that will improve the quality of life for people affected by MS.


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