I’m here in Vancouver, British Columbia with MS Society colleagues, government officials, donors and people living with MS to take part in a very important announcement for the MS Society and for the many Canadians affected by multiple sclerosis. Today we announced a partnership with the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD). This partnership has been created with one goal in mind: to speed up the development of new treatments, and find a cure, for people living with MS.
When I look back over the years I can recall a lot of great research that has been done to better understand, diagnose and manage MS. Studies funded by the MS Society, in addition to what has been conducted around the world, has changed the landscape of MS research in monumental ways. But one thing that always seems to come up in my conversations with people with MS is that advancements in research still take a very long time, and they fear that they will not see the true benefits or impacts of the research in their lifetime.
This led to the establishment of a very important collaboration with an organization that not only has the tools and resources to speed up treatment delivery for MS, but is located right here in our very own country. CDRD is Canada’s first and only fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre. They provide expertise and infrastructure to foster the development of innovative ideas and promising drug candidates stemming from the world’s best research institutions. CDRD possesses the ability to find these discoveries, and determine if they can become safe and effective treatments options for people affected by conditions like MS.
Essentially, CDRD is an expert in ‘translational research’, a term which refers to taking basic knowledge from laboratory-based research and applying it in ways that have meaningful impacts in the clinic i.e. a new therapy, diagnostic tool, etc. Although powerful, translational research comes with many challenges. It requires specific skills and expertise, and a lot of time and resources. Funders may also be reluctant to support translational research because of the many complex steps involved. This is why we have reached out to CDRD – we want to work with them to find and test treatments for people with MS much quicker and easier.
I have had the opportunity to meet many of the staff here at the CDRD headquarters, including CEO Dr. Karimah Es Sabar. I am truly impressed by the level of talent and passion displayed here. I am also very encouraged and excited for what is to come from this partnership. The first step is a call for research proposals that is open to scientists from around the world. The goal of this call is to fund studies that will lead to treatments for progressive MS.