$3.8M Grant Given to Progressive MS Study

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation announced on Tuesday that a $3.8 million dollar grant will be given to researchers who plan to delve into the role of inflammation in multiple sclerosis.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation announced on Tuesday that a $3.8 million dollar grant will be given to researchers who plan to delve into the role of inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study will be led by Dr Peter Stys from the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute; fellow researchers at the University of British Columbia, Laval University, and the VU University in Amsterdam will aid the research by focusing on damage that takes place in MS patients prior to inflammation.

Thus far, research has attributed MS to an autoimmune attack which damages the central nervous system.

"This study hypothesizes that the inflammatory response in MS is the result of an underlying degenerative process rather than the primary cause of injury," reported Stys, the lead researcher at U of C's department of clinical neurosciences. "In other words, an underlying mechanism causes degeneration that prompts the inflammatory process, which in turn causes more degeneration."

Roughly 10% of people who are diagnosed with MS suffer from primary progressive MS; more commonly, however, individuals are diagnosed with secondary progressive MS, which begins as relapsing remitting MS and develops within 10 years into secondary progressive. An estimated 50% of individuals who suffer from relapsing MS will progress onto secondary progressive MS.

As of now, seven "disease modifying treatments" existed for relapsing MS in Canada, but there is not much known of the progressive forms of MS.

"We urgently need research that tackles the challenges unique to the progressive forms of MS," stated Karen Lee, Vice President of research of the MS Society of Canada. "Our hope is that Dr. Stys and his team of research collaborators will help us find answers. Can we identify the mechanisms that cause damage associated with progressive MS? Will the results lead to the development of new therapies that prevent, delay or slow progressive MS? This research may help answer these questions."