Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m moving…. to the MS Society of Canada blog!

with careFor over five years my goal has been to provide you with an insider’s view on research. This ranged from ground-breaking research to existing studies, introducing you to researchers in the field, and reporting on the MS conferences that I attend. I’m excited to continue this journey at the MS Society of Canada blog: https://blog.mssociety.ca/category/research/. I hope you will join me there for all future posts on research.

We have exciting news, announcements, and information coming your way in the next few weeks and in the new year! The MS Society blog is a great place for you to not only get information on research but also on advocacy, the MS community, education, living well and more. You’ll already see all my posts from this year on the MS Society blog. The majority of the content from my blog will be available in French too.

subscribeI can also understand that you may have just been interested in learning about research, so, we have a way for you to do that as well. Subscribe to the mailing list and stay in touch by getting email updates on all the categories or just research! We’ve tailored it so people can continue to follow just me and my research updates or all posts from the MS Society of Canada. Please note that you will NOT be automatically subscribed to my posts, so you must go and subscribe.

My current blog will still be accessible for another month or so as we work to transfer all posts to an archived folder on the MS Society blog—you’ll still have access to all this valuable information there! Once moved, we will automatically direct you to the new site.

But for all new posts from me, go to the https://blog.mssociety.ca/category/research/, scroll down and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on any important information or news. See you there!

ECTRIMS 2018: Catching up with Dr. Brown and Dr. Fadda who are trying to make a difference in the lives of those with pediatric MS

baby-child-father-451853The ECTRIMS congress is a great place for researchers, clinicians, neurologists, multiple sclerosis (MS) Societies, organizations to all meet up and discuss the progress of developments in the MS field. It is also an opportunity for the MS Society research team to catch up with some of the researchers that we directly or indirectly fund. The research team had the opportunity to connect with some of our fantastic researchers that are working on the Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease study, led by Dr. Brenda Banwell, Chief of the Division of Child Neurology and Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Introducing Dr. Robert Brown and Dr. Giulia Fadda:

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ECTRIMS 2018: Real-world evidence vs clinical trial data: why are patient registries so important?

arms-care-check-905874What is the difference between clinical trial data and real-world evidence? Let’s look at a new drug being investigated for treatment of MS. Before a drug can be approved by a health authority such as Health Canada, the drug must go through the clinical trial process. If a drug has shown promise, it will likely reach a phase 3 trial involving at least 1,000 individuals. Clinical trials are highly controlled, where study participants take the medication being investigated (or mock drug) as prescribed under the watchful eye of a research team. Before the trial even begins, desired endpoints (such as annual relapse rate, lesion load, disability progression, and brain volume mass) are established and will be used to measure the efficacy and safety of the drug in humans.  Data from phase 3 trials that meet the desired endpoints in a statistically significant way, along with safety data reported during the trial, will be assessed by Health Canada in order to make a regulatory decision, or approval.

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ECTRIMS 2018: Updates on Progressive MS

Which subgroups of progressive MS should be treated?

Dr. Xavier Montalban, professor at the University of Toronto, presented an overview of treatments in progressive multiple sclerosis (PMS), beginning the talk with why drugs in PMS fail.  Firstly, the pathological processes involved in PMS compared to relapsing-remitting MS are different, therefore novel treatments to target the processes in PMS are needed. Second, the patient population that is recruited for the clinical trials are not appropriate to identify the benefits of treatment. Finally, the current outcomes used in clinical trials to determine effects of treatments are not sensitive measures. Based on the evidence collected from PMS clinical trials, there tends to be a better response in people with PMS with prior relapses, rapidly evolving disease, active baseline imaging, younger individuals, shorter disease duration, treatment naïve and lower disability score. For clinical trials in progressive MS to be effective, key questions needs to be answered:

In active PMS, is persistence of relapses or worsening of disease the definition of treatment failure?

In PMS that is not-active, is disability worsening or appearance of relapses the definition of treatment failure?

How long should treatments be administered to evaluate treatment efficacy?

What measures should define an effective treatment?

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ECTRIMS 2018: Risk Factors for multiple sclerosis (MS)

Overview of the growing list of potential risk factors for MS

Dr. Ali Manouchehrinia, Assistant Professor at the Karolinska Institutet, presented an overview of the risk factors for MS. Firstly, he discussed the genetic variants associated with increased risk for developing MS.  To date, there are 233 variants identified that have been linked to MS.  Geographical distribution of MS also hints toward the involvement of the environmental factors in increasing MS risk. Other factors that have also increased MS risk are Epstein-Barr Virus, smoking, increased BMI (particularly in individuals that have high BMI before the age of 20). Finally, Dr. Manouchehrinia concluded the talk by discussing the interaction between genetic and lifestyle factors. Both low vitamin D levels and high BMI and genetics increase the risk of MS. Overall, there is a growing list of environmental and lifestyle factors, and interaction between the two, associated with increased risk of MS.

Salt: Is there evidence to support it as a risk factor in MS?

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Improving cognitive function in MS: A researcher looking to make a difference for people diagnosed with progressive MS

Cognitive impairment, a research priority for the MS Society of Canada, affects a significant proportion of people living with MS.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause a reduction in brain size (also called brain atrophy). Research has shown that this atrophy and lesions developed in MS can be linked to the presence of cognitive difficulties. Cognitive difficulties affect up to seventy percent of individuals living with progressive MS, predominantly impacting information processing and speed, learning and memory, executive function and perceptual processing. Also, individuals themselves have voiced cognitive impairment as an area of concern that needs to be addressed.

Five years ago, I traveled around the country and engaged the MS Community (researchers, caregivers, individuals living with MS) to find out what areas of research are important to them—cognition and mental health was one of them!

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3rd Scientific Congress of the Progressive MS Alliance: Making a difference through rehabilitation and Symptom Management (Part 3)

While researchers are forging ahead with great ideas in symptom management and rehabilitation, we also heard about the complexity of factors that affect an individual with multiple sclerosis (MS) that need to be kept in consideration when developing new projects and initiatives. Therefore, in the third and final blog series on the progressive MS Alliance meeting, I will be highlighting fatigue management, understanding how comorbidities impact MS, and the mood and resilience of people living with MS.

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3rd Scientific Congress of the Progressive MS Alliance: Making a difference through rehabilitation and Symptom Management (Part 2)

Taking the lessons learned from stroke research (part 1) and moving forward to develop new projects and programs is important for the advancement of research in rehabilitation and symptom management in progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). For this post, I’ll be highlighting areas that garnered interest at the Progressive MS Alliance meeting such as brain stimulation, robotics, exercise, cognition, and patient perspectives.congress 1

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3rd Scientific Congress of the Progressive MS Alliance: Making a difference through rehabilitation and Symptom Management (Part 1)

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“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” quoted by Aristotle and reiterated by Dr. Anthony Feinstein, a neurologist at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and co-chair of the 3rd Scientific Congress of the Progressive MS Alliance.

This quote speaks to the holistic culture of the meeting, which brought together global leaders in the field to assess the challenges of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) research – with a particular focus on rehabilitation and symptom management. With over 220 participants from 16 countries, this was the largest Congress to date for the Alliance. Throughout the week, researchers and clinicians provided their insights on lessons that can be learned from other conditions such as stroke and spinal cord injury, and shared their research on symptom management and rehabilitation – including brain stimulation, robotics, patient perspectives, exercise and cognition, and how they could be applied specifically in MS. Continue reading