I’m here in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. Today I met with the CEO of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), Dr. Karimah Es Sabar. As you may recall, the MS Society announced an important collaboration with CDRD earlier this year. This collaboration is critical for the development of new treatments for MS and to ultimately find a cure.
Of course, today I will also be visiting an A&W restaurant for Cruisin’ to end MS, where $1 for every Teen Burger® purchased will go to help end MS. I encourage everyone to visit an A&W today where direct donations can be given as well.
The MS Society is grateful for your support and dedication to this important cause. With your help, more research can be done to better understand what causes MS and to ultimately discover a cure.
It’s no secret that the cause of MS remains unknown. As frustrating as this may be for the thousands of Canadians affected by MS, research ensues to better understand the triggers of this complex and debilitating disease. To read about studies funded by the MS Society that focus on the cause and risk factors of MS, check out our MS Research Summaries.
Along with genetic and environmental influences, viruses have been studied to evaluate their role as a potential trigger and risk factor of MS. Several mechanisms have been proposed for how viruses may trigger MS. A commonly accepted mechanism involves the concept of molecular mimicry, which occurs when there are similarities between peptides (small molecules of linked amino acids) that are foreign and that are found within the body. In MS, many viruses have been shown to have peptides that are similar to proteins in myelin of the central nervous system. The immune system may thus believe that certain myelin cells are part of the virus, and mistakenly attack them, leading to areas of demyelination, characteristic of MS.
Click here to read more about relationship between viruses and MS from our colleagues at the National MS Society in the U.S.
MS is a complex disease. One of several reasons for this is that people experience MS in very different ways and face highly variable courses. There are different forms of MS, such as relapsing-remitting, primary progressive, secondary progressive and progressive relapsing MS. In 1996, the US National MS Society (NMSS) Advisory Committee on Clinical Trials in Multiple Sclerosis established standardized definitions for each MS type in order to provide clarity and ensure consistency on a global scale.
The definitions quickly became a standard part of medical practice and research. However, it was soon recognized that the descriptions would require modifications in the future, as some of them lacked biological support and were heavily based on subjective views of MS experts. They recognized that advancements in imaging and biological markers would allow for the various MS types to be further defined
I recently read an interesting article in Neurology, in which the authors discussed a new way of looking at the different types of MS. In 2012, The Advisory Committee (now jointly supported by NMSS and the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS) joined other MS researchers to re-examine the original definitions and look to new evidence from techniques that were not available in 1996. The Committee determined that while the crux of the definitions should be maintained, the descriptions needed to be updated to better reflect the full range of clinical characteristics of MS. The definitions were finalized in 2013 and were presented for future research strategies.
Our fundraising season is in full swing at the MS Society. We have bikes, runs, obstacle courses and more to encourage people to get involved. The funds generated from these events are critical to the MS Society in so many ways- especially when it comes to funding research. Dr. Mark Freedman, a MS Society funded researcher, makes a difference not only through his MS research, but also by fundraising and getting involved in MS Society events. This year he’s biking over 200km in support of MS and raising thousands of dollars in the process. Recently, I had a few minutes to talk to Dr. Freedman about his fundraising efforts.