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Research in Action

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

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Research Profile

Denez Bokhari

In the third year of her Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences, Denez Bokhari and her fellow peers entered the Hack4Health competition hosted by the University of Waterloo, a 36-hour hackathon where students came up with creative solutions for individuals living with MS and dementia. At Hack4Health Denez and her team Tera Bio Solutions (TBS) came up with an app that would allow people living with MS to monitor and track their symptoms, temperature, heart rate, medication, sleep patterns and more. This data would then be transferred to their healthcare team who would be able to provide more personalized care. “Our team saw an immediate need to assist people living with MS from a lifestyle point of view, and that’s what stood out most to us.” Not surprisingly, team TBS was awarded a $15,000 grant from the MS Society of Canada to further develop their app.

Already passionate about pursuing a career in medicine, Denez developed a keen interest in multiple sclerosis through this project. “I particularly got interested in multiple sclerosis following the hackathon. It was the people that I met at the event who inspired me to pursue research on this topic.” Denez spoke not only with individuals diagnosed with MS but also caregivers and healthcare providers. “I learned a lot more about MS at the hackathon by talking to the people affected by MS rather than just reading about it using the resources provided to us.”

Having now graduated from the University of Waterloo, Denez is currently considering next steps in her academic career with clinical research being at the top of the list. “I gained appreciation for the dynamic nature of science and how its integration with technology can alleviate some of the demands on the health care system.” We wish Denez the best of luck in her future endeavors!

Research Events and Funding Opportunities

Canadians take to the roads for MS Bike to raise money for MS research

MS Bike is the largest fundraising cycling series in North America. This summer and fall thousands of people across Canada are gearing up and taking to the roads to raise critical funds for MS research and programs. Each MS Bike event is fully supported with rest stops, water, snacks, and support staff to ensure that you have an enjoyable and safe experience. You can cycle and fundraise as an individual or as a team! To learn more and register check out the MS Bike website.

ECTRIMS and ACTRIMS accepting Late Breaking Abstracts for MSParis2017

The Scientific Committee of the joint meeting of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) and Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) welcomes the submission of Late Breaking Abstracts for presentation at MSParis2017. The joint conference will take place October 25-28 in Paris, France. Researchers can submit an abstract with new information and important findings that were not available before the general abstract deadline. Visit the ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting website for further information.

The MS Society’s Annual Research Competition is almost here

The MS Society is preparing for the Annual Research Competition which will open at the end of July. Researchers and trainees who are conducting MS research can apply to receive funding for operating grants, graduate studentships and postdoctoral fellowships. The Annual Competition is the MS Society’s flagship research program, supporting close to $7 million in biomedical and clinical research grants and awards each year. For more information visit the MS Society’s Funding Opportunities page.

Research Spotlight

Researchers review rates of suicide in people with MS

MS Society-funded researcher and neuropsychiatrist Dr. Anthony Feinstein from the University of Toronto recently looked at the link between MS and suicide based on previously published epidemiological studies. Findings from the different studies were generally consistent with a consensus that there is an increased prevalence of suicide in the MS population. Researchers also discussed prevalence of suicide attempts and risk factors related to suicide in MS. Read about the research study here.

Oral antibiotic reduces risk of converting to MS

A Canadian clinical trial led by researchers at the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute shows that minocycline, a common acne medication, can slow the progress of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in people who have experienced their first symptoms. The MS Society of Canada and Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation have been behind this work from start to end, funding the initial basic biomedical studies to the phase III clinical trial led by Canadian neurologist Dr. Luanne Metz. Read the Minocycline FAQ for more information about the trial and what it means for people with MS.

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

Did You Know?

Drug repurposing is the process of taking a commercially available drug for a condition and evaluating it for a different condition. For example, aspirin, taken normally as a pain reliever, was repurposed to prevent heart conditions. Minocycline is an antibiotic commonly used to treat acne, and is now shown to reduce coversion to MS. Similarly, simvastatin is an approved cholesterol-lowering drug that is currently being tested for the treatment of progressive MS.

Research Online

MS Society funds two translational research projects

The MS Society has partnered with the non-profit subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society called Fast Forward to co-fund a new research project that will target the neurodegenerative process that is thought to contribute to progression in MS. The project will be led by Canadian MS researcher Dr. Fang Liu from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Ontario. The MS Society has committed $300,000 for this project.

MS Society continues its collaboration with the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) with new funding that will support Dr. Philippe Séguéla’s translational research project. Dr. Séguéla will further develop his project focused on blocking specific ion channels in the brain with the aim of preventing and/or reducing neurodegeneration. The MS Society has awarded $120,100 for this work to continue bridging the gap between discovery research and clinical trials.

MS Society invests in a new, student-led tech project looking at fatigue management

At last fall’s Hack4Health hackathon hosted by the University of Waterloo, Team Roze pitched an idea of an app that promotes physical activity for women with MS to help reduce fatigue, which got them a $15,000 MS Society grant. Team Roze were recently interviewed to learn more about their research and what motivated them to develop the app. Check out the full interview with Team Roze on Dr. Karen Lee’s research blog.

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:

  • Patients’ experience with spasticity management in southern Saskatchewan. This study investigates patients’ perceived needs and preferences, as well as current experiences, regarding multidisciplinary service provision for the population in southern Saskatchewan through an online survey or telephone mediated interviews. For more information please visit the study page on the MS Research Portal.

In Other MS News...

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