In-Depth Study into MS Progression Gets $2M Boost from Roche Canada

Alberto Molano, PhD avatar

by Alberto Molano, PhD |

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Roche Canada is contributing $2.125 million to the Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in MS (CanProCo), a partnership initiative with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, the Brain Canada Foundation, and Biogen Canada.

The addition of Roche Canada to the collaboration raises the total study funding to more than $9 million, which will be used to help those affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

Nearly 50 leading MS researchers spanning multiple disciplines will take part in the five-year project — the first of its kind in Canada — led by Jiwon Oh, MD, a neurologist and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Their goal is to collect detailed incidence, neuroimmunology, and imaging data from 1,000 MS patients to better understand the mechanisms involved in MS progression.

The team plans to recruit a carefully selected group of patients with different subtypes of the disease and in various disease stages, and follow them over time. During the study, the researchers will collect detailed information on disease incidence, and health outcomes, economics, and services utilization. They will also assess advanced and conventional neuroimaging and neuroimmunology data.

Participant recruitment has started at MS clinics at the 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 open. For more information, visit the MS research portal and CanProCo websites.

With improved understanding of the mechanisms underlying MS progression, researchers believe it may be possible to design treatments that can alter the trajectory of the disease as opposed to simply slowing its course, which is what currently available therapies do.

In addition, the researchers expect to identify potential risk factors, such as environmental, clinical, and health system parameters, that could contribute to disease progression as well as to the identification of markers that can help predict how people will do over time.

“As a leader in healthcare, Roche Canada is thrilled to be a part of this unique project,” Ronnie Miller, president and CEO of Roche Canada, said in a press release. “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.”

Interactions among the underlying biology of the disease, patient, treatment, disease subtype, environment, and health systems will be analyzed to try to understand how they affect MS progression.

These detailed data from different fields of study are expected to provide an in-depth understanding of how progression in MS starts, and why some patients progress more rapidly than others.

“It’s my pleasure to welcome Roche Canada as a funding partner of the CanProCo,” said Pamela Valentine, PhD, president and CEO of the 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.”

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