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Roche Canada Invests $2+ million in Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in Multiple Sclerosis (CanProCo)

  • National News Release

Toronto, ON – April 3, 2019 – The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Brain Canada Foundation, and Biogen Canada are pleased to announce the addition of Hoffmann-La Roche Limited (Roche Canada) and its contribution of $2.125 million to the Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in MS (CanProCo). This brings the total amount awarded for the project to over $9 million, which will be used to help people living with and affected by MS in Canada.

“As a leader in healthcare, Roche Canada is thrilled to be a part of this unique project,” said Ronnie Miller, President and CEO, Roche Canada. “We believe strongly in bringing innovation to the forefront of medical research and the CanProCo is doing exactly that. Multiple sclerosis impacts tens of thousands of Canadians. This project is a significant step towards advancing our knowledge of the disease and we’re proud to be collaborating with the MS Society of Canada and its partners on this initiative.”

The additional funding for the CanProCo will go toward supporting the three pillars of the cohort: neuroimmunology, neuroimaging, and neuroepidemiology/health outcomes. Spanning multiple disciplines, this five-year project is a collaborative study combining the efforts of nearly 50 leading MS researchers from across Canada. It is the first project of its kind in Canada aiming to better understand progression in MS and why some people progress in their disease while others do not. The team of researchers will try to pinpoint triggers leading to progression and establish methods of managing them while measuring the impact of MS on individuals, as well as the Canadian healthcare system.

“It’s my pleasure to welcome Roche Canada as a funding partner of the CanProCo,” said Dr. Pamela Valentine, president and CEO, MS Society of Canada. “Their generous support of this innovative study will go towards furthering MS research and will change the lives of the many Canadians affected by MS. This incredibly collaborative project has the potential to uncover the mysteries surrounding progression in MS that can alter how we view this disease.”

The project is being led by Dr. Jiwon Oh, a neurologist and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital who focuses on the development of advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques in MS.

Through the CanProCo, Dr. Oh and her team hope to collect and analyze data from Canadians living with MS while accounting for biological, physical and socioeconomic factors, allowing for a holistic understanding of each person’s unique experience with the disease. Using these data, researchers hope to improve the diagnostic process, treatment, long-term monitoring and potentially prevent MS from manifesting. Long-term monitoring of MS progression also enables researchers to create a centralized and open source of data that may be relevant for other neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Huntington's because of the potential for common disease mechanisms.

Recruitment for the cohort has begun and will take place at MS clinics at the following sites: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Toronto and Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. Recruitment dates for each site will be posted on the MS Society of Canada’s social media channels as they become available. For more information on how to participate, please visit the MS research portal. Click here for more information about the Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in MS.

Background on the Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in MS (CanProCo)

Progression – or the steady worsening of disease, resulting in increased disability – is a challenging reality faced by people affected by MS. While major advances have been made in MS research over the last 30 years, the mechanism of progression and the ways in which researchers and clinicians can track progression are still not fully understood. The CanProCo can have significant implications on how those living with MS manage and understand their illness from diagnosis 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.

Roche Canada joins founding partners Brain Canada Foundation, which receives financial support from Health Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund, Biogen Canada and the MS Society of Canada, in their support of this $9+ million investment into Canadian research. 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.

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About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada

Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world with 11 Canadians diagnosed with MS every day. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides programs and services for people with MS and their families, advocates for those living with MS, and funds research to help improve the quality of life for people living with MS and to ultimately find a cure for this disease. 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.

About Roche Canada

Founded in 1931, Roche Canada is committed to searching for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases while making a sustainable contribution to society. The company employs more than 1,200 people across the country through its Pharmaceuticals division in Mississauga, Ontario and Diagnostics, as well as Diabetes Care divisions in Laval, Quebec.

Roche aims to improve patient access to medical innovations by working with all relevant stakeholders. Roche Canada is actively involved in local communities through its charitable giving and partnerships with organizations and healthcare institutions that work together to improve the quality of life of Canadians. For more information, please visit www.RocheCanada.com.

About Brain Canada
Brain Canada is a national registered charity that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. Brain Canada’s vision is to understand the brain, in health and illness, to improve lives and achieve societal impact. For two decades, Brain Canada has made the case for the brain as a single, complex system with commonalities across the range of neurological disorders, mental illnesses and addictions, brain and spinal cord injuries. Looking at the brain as one system has underscored the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and institutions, and a smarter way to invest in brain research that is focused on outcomes that will benefit patients and families.

Brain Canada raises and leverages funds from a range of donors and partners, including individuals, corporations, foundations, research institutes, health charities, and provincial agencies. To date, Brain Canada and its supporters have invested $250 million in 300 research projects across the country.

To find out more, visit: www.braincanada.ca

About Biogen

At Biogen, our mission is clear: we are pioneers in neuroscience. Biogen discovers, develops and delivers worldwide innovative therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. One of the world’s first global biotechnology companies, Biogen was founded in 1978 by Charles Weissmann, Heinz Schaller, Kenneth Murray and Nobel Prize winners Walter Gilbert and Phillip Sharp, and today has the leading portfolio of medicines to treat multiple sclerosis, has introduced the first and only approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy and is focused on advancing neuroscience research programs in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, MS and neuroimmunology, movement disorders, neuromuscular disorders, acute neurology, neurocognitive disorders, pain and ophthalmology. Biogen also manufactures and commercializes biosimilars of advanced biologics.

Contact:
Jennifer Asselin
MS Society of Canada
1-800-268-7582 ext. 3144
jennifer.asselin@mssociety.ca

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