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Research in Action

April 2017
Latest research news and updates from the MS Society of Canada

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Research Profile

Shannon Kolind’s first exposure to multiple sclerosis was the diagnosis of her grandfather before the invention of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This led her to want to improve the lives of those living with the same condition and to eventually see an end to the disease. Shannon, who is an expert in MS imaging at the University of British Columbia, received an MS Society of Canada Operating Grant in the 2017-2018 Annual Research Competition and is currently hard at work on her project which focuses on discovering a biomarker for disease progression in MS.

The study focuses on establishing an imaging biomarker, or measurable indicator of disease, that tracks the change in progression more efficiently than current clinical tests. “By measuring myelin changes over time, we will be able to determine whether a new therapy is able to slow or stop myelin damage, and hence, disability,” says Kolind. “With this imaging measure, we aim to reduce cost and time required for progressive MS clinical trials, and help with treatment decisions.”

When asked what she enjoys most about working in the lab, she answers “I am constantly amazed and humbled by the spirit of the people I have met through MS research. Being part of such a passionate community deeply motivates my work.” The MS Society is looking forward to seeing how Shannon’s study will unfold over the next few years and provide a glimpse into the processes in the brain underlying progression in MS.

Research Events and Opportunities

2017 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting

The 69th AAN Annual Meeting will be taking place April 22 28 in Boston, MA. The AAN Annual Meeting is the world's largest gathering of neurologists, bringing together more than 10,000 neurology professionals across the globe to network, discuss cutting-edge research, and take part in top-rated education programming across a wide variety of topics, including multiple sclerosis. The MS Society research team will be on-site to attend the presentations and poster sessions and share the latest MS research updates from the conference. Follow along on Twitter (@Dr_KarenLee), the research blog (, and Facebook (@MSSocietyCanada) to hear the latest on topics like clinical trials, risk factors, symptom management, neuroprotection and more.

Multi-Centre Collaborative Team Grant: Update

The MS Society of Canada and its affiliated MS Scientific Research Foundation launched the 2017 Multi-Centre Collaborative Team Grant competition in March. Please note that certain deadlines and eligibility criteria have changed. To read the most current information about the Team Grant competition, please visit the website.

Research Spotlight

BC study shows the potential of an antioxidant to limit disease progression

A study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia has discovered that a molecule with antioxidant properties, TEMPOL, reduces the onset and progression of MS-like disease in mice. In their study published in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, Dr. Quandt- a recipient of an Operating Grant and Dr. Donald Paty Career Development Award from the MS Society- and her research team found that mice with an MS-like disease given the oral compound TEMPOL had reduced levels of disability as well as fewer harmful immune cells in their spinal cords. Dr. Quandt’s study highlights the continued need for oral therapies that are well tolerated, effective and with reduced risk profiles for people living with MS.

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

Did You Know?

A biomarker has become a common term in basic biomedical and clinical research referring to medical signs that are indicative of health and or illness of individuals. In multiple sclerosis, biomarkers are essential in identifying disease, measuring progression, and identifying individuals which may be responsive to specific treatments. There are many biomarkers in MS, including proteins that are indicative of inflammation in the cerebrospinal fluid, and lesions on brain imaging scans. Dr. Shannon Kolind, featured above in this edition of the research profile, is funded by the MS Society on a project that aims to establish another imaging biomarker of MS to help track progression and response to treatments.

Research Online

Last month, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Biogen Canada, and Brain Canada announced the launch of a $7+ million call for research proposals that will invite researchers to establish a Canadian cohort of people living with MS to study progression in the disease.

Check out Dr. Karen Lee's blog for more information on the MS Progression Cohort.

Interested in applying? Find more information on the MS Society’s funding opportunities 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. This month’s feature study is:

  • Little is known about the areas of daily living which are most affected in children living with MS. Specific areas of concern that children with MS have are not known because there is currently no measurement that allows them to report their concerns. A group of researchers at McGill University in Montreal are conducting a questionnaire-based study to identify areas related to quality of life in pediatric MS that are most concerning and those that are prioritized for improvement. The data will be used to develop the content for a patient-reported outcome measure of MS impact for children with MS. For more information please visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.
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