Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada


MS Society of Canada and The Centre for Drug Research and Development to Accelerate Promising New Therapeutics for Progressive MS

  • National News Release

Toronto and Vancouver, Canada – February 16, 2016 — National organizations, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MS Society) and The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) are pleased to announce the launch of two new innovative drug development programs in the fight against multiple sclerosis (MS) as part of their ongoing strategic partnership.

The collaboration between CDRD and the MS Society represents an opportunity for investigators at the cutting-edge of MS research to move their technologies more quickly through preclinical development and facilitate use by people living with progressive MS. Following a rigorous international search and subsequent peer review by experts in MS and translational research, the selected projects to be developed in collaboration with CDRD’s drug development team are:

Principal Investigator: Dr. David Granville (The University of British Columbia and viDA Therapeutics Inc.):

In collaboration with UBC’s Dr. Marc Horwitz, and Dr. Amit Bar-Or of the Montreal Neurological Institute, Dr. David Granville and the CDRD team will validate granzyme B as a novel target for the treatment of progressive MS. Granzyme B is an enzyme that certain immune cells use to destroy harmful invaders. In the MS brain, granzyme B mistakenly targets the body’s own nerve cells, inducing them to self-destruct. Additionally, granzyme B can directly impair nerve conduction and prevent normal reparative processes from occurring.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Veronique Miron (University of Edinburgh):

A recently identified potential target for progressive MS therapy is the activin-A receptor protein. Evidence suggests that a molecule which binds this activin-A receptor stimulates oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) to mature and produce new myelin, the insulating membrane sheath that protects nerves in the brain and spinal cord. However in MS, patches of myelin sheaths are damaged and stripped off the nerve. This can cause neurological symptoms such as paralysis, sensory changes and blindness. Dr. Miron and CDRD are working together to test thousands of compounds to determine their effects on OPCs grown in the lab. Narrowing down and validating the list of compounds that can stimulate the activin-A receptor and promote myelin repair will be a crucial step in filling the gap of progressive MS therapies.

“The MS community has identified a critical unmet need for therapies targeting progressive MS,” says Karen Lee, Vice-President, Research, MS Society of Canada. “By funding these leading-edge studies and working collaboratively with CDRD, we aim to bridge the gap between scientific discovery and the availability of therapies that will repair damage and restore function in people living with progressive MS.”

“There is tremendous potential presented by these innovative therapeutic approaches, and CDRD is looking forward to taking the next step in the fight against MS,” says Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO, CDRD. “By tapping into the infrastructure and expertise in drug development and commercialization offered by CDRD, highly promising targets such as those being investigated by Drs. Granville and Miron can be taken to the next level in the process of providing an effective therapy for those living with MS.”

In the past 20 years, there has been significant progress in the development of therapeutics for relapsing-remitting MS, resulting in 11 Health Canada-approved disease-modifying therapies. Despite this success, people living with progressive MS still have no effective disease-modifying therapies available to them. Progressive MS is the slow accumulation of disability that either follows the relapsing-remitting stage (secondary progressive MS) or manifests without a history of acute attacks (primary progressive MS). Without treatment options, those living with progressive MS face an inevitable decline in health that usually begins during the most productive years of their lives.


About MS and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

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. Please visit or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or for more information.

About The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)

Headquartered in Vancouver, The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is Canada’s national drug development and commercialization engine. We work in partnership with academia, industry, government and foundations, and provide the specialized expertise and infrastructure to identify and de-risk promising discoveries, and transform them into commercially viable investment opportunities for the private sector – and ultimately into innovative new therapies for patients. In doing so, CDRD is actively growing our national health sciences industry into a wholly-optimized generator of economic prosperity for the country. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).

For additional information, please contact:

Lindsay Gulin

Specialist, Media Relations, MS Society of Canada

Direct: 1-800-268-7582 ext. 3245

Julia White

Manager, Communications, CDRD

Direct: 604-827-1226
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