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$7M MS Progression Cohort to Research Multiple Sclerosis in Canada

  • Synopsis: Published: 2017-03-31 - Research proposals will invite researchers to establish a Canadian cohort of people living with MS to study progression in the disease. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada at

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Quote: "The results of this study could impact how we treat and diagnose MS-and ultimately answer so many of the questions people living with MS have about their disease and its progression..."

MS Society of Canada, Biogen Canada, and Brain Canada partner to support the first Canadian cohort that will study the progression of multiple sclerosis over time

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Biogen Canada, and Brain Canada announced the launch of a $7+ million call for research proposals that will invite researchers to establish a Canadian cohort of people living with MS to study progression in the disease. Development of the MS Progression Cohort will serve as a unique pan-Canadian opportunity to answer the critical question of why some people with MS progress and others do not, and to pinpoint the exact triggers of progression and establish tools that can detect and monitor those triggers. In addition, the impact of the disease and treatments on individuals as well as the impacts on the Canadian healthcare system will be researched.

"This MS progression study is the first of its kind in Canada, and will be carried out across the country under the leadership of a multidisciplinary team of scientific experts and health professionals in the MS field. The results of this study could impact how we treat and diagnose MS-and ultimately answer so many of the questions people living with MS have about their disease and its progression," says Yves Savoie, president and CEO, MS Society of Canada.

Progression - or the steady worsening of disease and increase in disability - is a challenging reality faced by all people affected by MS, and despite major advances in MS research, the mechanism of progression and the ways in which researchers and clinicians can track progression are still not fully understood.

The Canadian MS Progression Cohort can have significant implications on how those living with MS manage and understand their illness from diagnoses and throughout the various stages of the disease. This study will look at progression from the biological, physical, and socioeconomic perspectives, and will meaningfully engage people living with MS so that their individual experiences are captured.

Ultimately, the goal of the cohort is to connect biological findings with real world and clinical findings to create a comprehensive picture of progression in MS, with the hope that researchers will better understand the unpredictable nature of MS and find a cure.

"Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can be daunting. Symptoms are inconsistent and finding ways to manage the disease can be tricky. A study like this could mean an end to the guessing game," says Chantal Milne, who was diagnosed with MS in 2012. "I want to be the mom who is able to play with my daughter on the floor, for years to come. It brings me comfort to know that time and energy is being spent on research that will not only benefit me, but also future generations including my daughter's."

"Biogen Canada is thrilled to partner with both the MS Society of Canada and Brain Canada on such an innovative and unique pan-Canadian research study for Canadians and MS. We recognize that this novel multistakeholder partnership demonstrates our collective commitment to the MS community here in Canada," says Lisa Hickey, vice president, managing director, Biogen Canada. "A study of this magnitude will dramatically change the landscape about what we know about MS and MS progression."

"Brain Canada is proud to partner on this innovative grant that not only supports the development of a shared data platform, but also guides its use to address specific research questions. This will strengthen the capacity of Canadian researchers who are working in the area of MS, and serve as a resource and model for research on other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS and Huntington's, which have some common underlying mechanisms," says Inez Jabalpurwala, president and CEO, Brain Canada.

Each funding partner is contributing more than $2 million to the project. The MS Society is grateful to lead donors, PCL Construction and Bennett Jones LLP for their generous support at $1.25 million and $1 million, respectively, as well as to several individuals who made significant contributions. Funding partner Brain Canada receives financial support from Health Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund.

Interested applicants are invited to submit a letter of intent to seek a planning grant that will enable them to appropriately plan and develop their full application. The total funding available for the planning grant is up to $250,000. If more than one team is invited to the full application stage, they will share the planning grant. More information can found on the MS Progression Cohort webpage -

Related Information:

  1. U.S. FDA Approves Ocrevus (Ocrelizumab) to Treat Multiple Sclerosis - Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) has been approved to treat adult patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) - U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  2. Stem Cells Show Reversal of Disability in Multiple Sclerosis - Stem cell treatment improves established disability in patients with progressive MS and shows there is hope future treatment is possible - Tisch MS Research Center of New York
  3. Multiple Sclerosis Research Progress & Initiatives - Summary of significant 2015 multiple sclerosis research progress and initiatives from The National Multiple Sclerosis Society - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Information from our Multiple Sclerosis: Subtypes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment section - (Full List).

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