$1M Invested in Study on Effects of Childhood-onset MS Over Time

Lindsey Shapiro, PhD avatar

by Lindsey Shapiro, PhD |

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About CA$1.35 million ($1.07 million) has been invested in a project that seeks to understand the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) on a group of people with pediatric-onset disease as they move into adulthood.

The three-year investment was from Biogen Canada and Roche Canada — each providing about CA$500,000 (nearly $400,000) — and the Brain Canada Foundation, which is giving around CA$350,000 (nearly $280,000).

Two large MS initiatives — the Canadian Prospective Cohort Study to Understand Progression in Multiple Sclerosis (CanProCo) and the Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Study (CPDDS) — will join for the project, in which the effects of childhood-onset MS are assessed as the children age.

Various factors will be evaluated over time, including physical disability, cognition, brain structure, life quality, and capacity for work and educational achievement.

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“On behalf of the CanProCo team, we are pleased to welcome this collaboration to further our knowledge of pediatric-onset MS and to provide important insights for all people living with MS as they age,” Jiwon Oh, MD, PhD, CanProCo’s lead investigator and medical director of the BARLO MS Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health in Toronto, said in an MS Society of Canada press release.

“This research will serve as an invaluable resource for the national and international MS research community, providing implications on how we effectively treat, manage, and identify factors of MS progression across the disease spectrum, beginning at the earliest onset of the disease,” Oh added.

While MS usually affects adults, up to an estimated 5%–10% of MS cases may be diagnosed before age 16. These patients may have an altogether different disease trajectory than people with adult-onset forms of the disease.

Over the last 16 years, CPDDS has followed individuals with pediatric-onset MS and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody disorders (MOGAD) — a related condition — to generate a large patient dataset including clinical, imaging, immunological, and genetic information from more than 700 participants. The program is led by Brenda Banwell, MD, and supported by MS Society of Canada’s Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation.

With the new project, CPDDS will join forces with CanProCo to provide a longer-term follow-up in about 100 CPDDS participants, and compare their disease trajectories with adult-onset MS patients.

“By bringing together two large patient-centric cohorts in Canada, this is a unique opportunity to follow young adults with pediatric MS across a new stage of their lives,” Banwell said. “This is the first initiative in Canada to examine the progression and impact of early-onset MS into adulthood, namely the effect of this diagnosis on brain health, immune function development, mental health, relationships, quality of life, and other health outcomes across the lifespan.”

CanProCo brings together leading MS researchers across Canada to better understand and treat MS progression. Until now, the initiative has been focused on adult patients.

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The initiative is also funded by the government of Alberta, and the MS Society of Canada. With the new investment, CanProCo has been awarded a total more than CA$11.5 million (about $9.1 million).

“Integrating pediatric participants from the CPDDS into CanProCo will maximize the investment the MS Society has made over the last 16 years to help us understand MS across the lifespan,” said Pam Valentine, PhD, president and CEO of MS Society of Canada.

“With the continued support of our CanProCo funding partners, this new research will drive breakthroughs in how we understand, treat, and halt MS disease progression at various life stages, moving us closer to a world free of MS,”  Valentine added.

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