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Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Network gets boost

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Network gets boost with $3.2 million grant

Funding to help expand pediatric multiple sclerosis research and further insight into
the disease at any age

July 29, 2015 -- Toronto -- The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation (MSSRF) announced today a $3.2 million grant in support of the Canadian Pediatric
Demyelinating Disease Network. The Network, established in 2004, has become one of the largest and most comprehensive pediatric MS cohorts in the world, enabling researchers to tap into a unique source to gather important insights about the cause and progression of MS. Funding from the grant will allow the Network
to build upon its existing studies to uncover the progressive burden of pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS) from childhood through young adulthood. These discoveries will also help researchers to better understand
the burden experienced by adults with MS, and aid in the early identification of risk factors and imaging cues that are suggestive of the disease, with the goal of improving treatment outcomes and potentially preventing MS.  

“This funding will allow us to study the impact of MS and of other demyelinating conditions on quality of life, learning and academic success, physical activity and overall health and exercise in affected children and adolescents. We will also evaluate the impact of MS on brain growth and variances in the immune system,” says Dr. Brenda Banwell, renowned Canadian MS neurologist, chief of neurology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, adjunct scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), and lead principal investigator of the
study. “This study provides a window into the earliest aspects of the disease and can ask unique questions that cannot be asked in adult-onset MS.”

Most institutions within the Network will take on new objectives as part of the ‘Progressive degeneration from onset in pediatric multiple sclerosis: Evaluation of clinical and health-related quality of life, early loss of brain integrity and accelerated immunological senescence’ study. Under the leadership of Dr. Banwell, these
objectives will focus on quality of life of children and adolescents living with MS, the impact of the disease
on their transition to young adulthood, the impact of the disease on parents and caregivers, the impact of MS on brain development and cognitive performance, and the impact of MS on immune cells. The study’s co-investigators include Dr. Ann Yeh (SickKids), Dr. Amit Bar-Or (Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University), Dr. Doug Arnold (Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University), and Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie (University of Manitoba).

“This research team has significantly changed the way the MS community understands and manages MS in children and youth,” says Dr. Karen Lee, vice president, research at the MS Society of Canada. “It is encouraging to see that they are taking their research to the next level to better understand the progressive
burden of pediatric MS and probe into the psychosocial, cognitive, and immunological impacts of the disease. This work will tell us a lot about adults with MS as well, in particular the early triggers and subclinical events that
may be missed.”

The Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Network includes all 17 pediatric health care institutions in Canada, 6 additional Canadian sites in locations distant from a formal pediatric hospital as well as the more recent addition of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the U.S. Observing over 430 children and adolescents, the Network has uncovered an enormous wealth of research to date about the features of MS in children, risk factors that help to predict those at high-risk for developing MS, and potential treatment options.

For more information about the grant and the work of the Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Network, the public may visit mssociety.ca.

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About multiple sclerosis, the MS Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research
Foundation

Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. It is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults in Canada. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, and the unpredictable effects of MS last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides services to people with MS and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. The
Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation funds large, innovative, multi-centre collaborative studies that will lead to major advances in the field of MS. A unique Canadian resource, the Foundation’s main funding source is the MS Society of Canada. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or
for more information.

Join the conversation and connect with the MS community online. Find the MS Society on Twitter, Instagram or like our page on Facebook.

Media contact: Lindsay Gulin, MS Society of Canada, 416-922-6600 ext. 3245, lindsay.gulin@mssociety.ca

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