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Research in Action

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

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Research Profile

Translational Researcher: Dr. Fang Liu


Dr. Fang Liu is a senior scientist and Head of Molecular Neuroscience in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Dr. Fang Liu obtained her MSc and PhD from the Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto. Before immigrating to Canada, she received her MD from Shanghai Medical University in China and was a practicing pediatrician. After joining the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto in 2001, she was promoted to full professor in 2011.

In April 2017, Dr. Liu received a grant of over $830,000 USD co-funded by the MS Society of Canada and the U.S. National MS Society’s commercial research platform Fast Forward. Ranked one of the top proposals submitted to Fast Forward for its impressive merit and translational potential, the study builds on findings from her previous MS Society-funded project that began in 2012. Her original project found that by interrupting the interaction between specific proteins in the brain that can lead to neurodegeneration, a form of nerve cell death, her team observed a reduction in symptoms in mice with a disease similar to MS. This led to Dr. Liu developing two series of drug-like compounds that could put a stop to the neurodegenerative process in MS.

Dr. Liu’s new project will focus on taking neuroprotective drugs to next, in the hopes of leading to a new therapy that halts or slows neurodegeneration in MS. “We will build upon our earlier discovery of a new MS treatment approach, to develop new molecules with optimal properties for drug development,” says Dr. Liu.

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

Niagara Falls to be lit up in red and a special research presentation on World MS Day

World MS Day an annual worldwide campaign which raises awareness of the disease, celebrates solidarity and calls on the community to take action to support those affected will take place on Wednesday May 31 with the theme of “Life with MS”. The MS Society’s Niagara Peninsula Chapter of Hope is hosting an event at the Crown Plaza hotel to celebrate world MS Day, and it will include a special presentation from Angelica Asis, Acting Director of Research at the MS Society. Angelica will provide an update on the latest progress in MS research and what’s in the pipeline. Following this the Niagara Falls will be illuminated in red. Check the MS Society’s website for more information and follow #LifewithMS on social media.

MS research trainees gear up for an exciting week at endMS Summer School in St. John’s

The MS Society’s endMS Summer School is an annual, week-long interactive workshop that brings together close to 40 MS research trainees from across Canada. This year’s Summer School will be held from June 12-15 in scenic St. John’s, Newfoundland at Memorial University. The program which follows the theme of “Moving MS Research Forward through Clinical and Biomedical Partnerships”, will include lectures, networking events, mentoring and coaching sessions, and patient engagement activities, all designed to enhance the trainees’ knowledge and scientific training in MS research and build connections with peers. Follow Dr. Karen Lee’s research blog and Twitter for updates during the event.

Canada laces up for MS Walk to raise funds for research and programs

This month more than 30,000 people in more than 125 communities across the country will walk for MS. Funds raised through MS Walk are integral to mobilizing the vision and mission of the MS Society. Communities that come together to support and take part in MS Walk enable investments in ground breaking research and the implementation of life-improving programs and services for people affected by MS. For more information on Walk dates, locations, and registration, visit the MS Walk website.

There are many other MS research and treatment-related events taking place in communities across Canada. For more information check out the MS Society’s event page.

Hosting an MS research event in your community? Submit it to msresearchgrants@mssociety to be featured in Research in Action!

Research Spotlight

Did You Know?

Neurodegeneration is the the damage caused to nerves that leads to abnormal or loss of function in the brain and spinal cord. Common neurodegenerative disease include Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. While multiple sclerosis was commonly considered to be a disease of the immune system, it is now also considered a neurodegenerative disease, although the cause of the neurodegeneration observed in MS is still uncertain. Progressive MS exhibites more neurodegeneration than inflammation, and the neurodegeneration is what causes disability.

Research Online

UK and Canadian researchers collaborate to uncover a new player in MS progression

A study published earlier this year discovered a novel protein, Rab32, that may contribute to the cause of MS. Researchers found higher than normal levels of Rab32 in the brains of people with MS. Elevated levels of Rab32 protein was associated with the dysfunction of structures within the cells that are responsible for energy production. More details on these results can be found on Dr. Karen Lee’s research blog.

Study Projects the 20-year Horizon of MS in Canada


Credits: “3D Growth Projections” by Chris Potter/ CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
The Government of Canada initiated a national study on neurological diseases like MS to better understand their burden on quality of life and healthcare. The results of the study were used to project the economic impact of MS over a 20-year horizon within Canada. The researchers report that prevalence rates and healthcare costs of MS will rise between the years 2011 and 2031.

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

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:

  • The role of muscle strength and voluntary activation on symptomatic fatigue in multiple sclerosis. This project will investigate the role of muscle strength and muscle activation on symptomatic fatigue in relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive MS. Muscle fatigue will be investigated by measuring strength and power outputs of two lower limb muscles and collecting data through self-reported questionnaires. For more information please visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.

In Other MS News...

Interested in a research topic or event that was not covered? Submit your feedback to msresearchgrants@mssociety.ca.

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