Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating neurological condition where patients face recurrent episodes of disability that come and go (relapses and remissions) as well as the prospect of significant and progressive permanent disability.
Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world, with an estimated 100,000 Canadians living with the disease. More than 2.3 million people are affected worldwide and the progression of the disease is unique to each patient. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults aged 15 to 40, younger children and older adults can also be diagnosed with the disease.
Diagnosing MS continues to be challenging but treating MS is starting to change rapidly. Although there is no known cure today, our researchers and clinicians are on a pathway of discovery and innovation, paving the way forward to achieve the impossible.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Group: The uOBMRI MS Group was founded in order to systematically research the underlying mechanisms of MS, unravel regeneration processes, develop new approaches for treatment and implement innovative rehabilitation processes at our partnering hospitals in Ottawa. With the belief that a collaborative approach is key, the group features members with a wide range of interests and expertise.
The Brain and Mind Research Institute is uniquely positioned to lead the world in the effort towards a cure for MS. We have a unique combination of strengths in biology, neuroscience, physics and mathematics, and expertise in brain circuitry and computational biology.
New therapies are giving hope to people who live with MS. There are novel therapies and scientific studies providing a deeper understanding of the current challenges to better treat MS. Emerging studies led by Dr. Mark Freedman and his team members are shedding light on groundbreaking insight into the complex interactions of the Central Nervous System in the context of MS. The team is navigating treatments and therapies to improve the quality of life for people with MS and one day find a cure to halt the disease entirely.
In a 2016 paper published in The Lancet, Dr. Harold Atkins, Scientist, Cancer Therapeutics and Medical Director at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), and Dr. Mark Freedman, Senior Scientist, have shown that strong doses of chemotherapy can eliminate the misguided immune system and regenerate a new immune system following a blood stem cell transplant. Together these treatments halt all evidence of ongoing immune mediated damage in patients with multiple sclerosis and prevent progressive permanent disabilities in 70% of patients. In the absence of ongoing immune mediated damage, the nervous system can repair itself and about 40% of patients at least partially recover from previous longstanding disabilities. Ongoing use of this procedure continues to help that subset of patients that present the most aggressive.