April 30, 2003
With the launch of MS Awareness Month in May, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has announced funding of $3.8 million, a 27 percent increase over 2002, towards MS research projects and scholarships.
"In 2003, we had an increased number of outstanding MS research projects to review as well as a substantial number of applications for scholarships. The review committees strongly recommended that the MS Society commit additional funding, and I am very pleased we are able to fund additional multi-year projects and annual scholarships," said Dr. William J. McIlroy, MS Society national medical advisor.
Funded are 12 innovative multi-year research projects, one career development award, 13 postdoctoral fellowships and 33 studentships. In 2002, the MS Society approved $3 million in multi-year research projects and annual personnel support. On an annual basis the MS Society provides an accumulative total of about $5 million to its research program.
Half of the research projects are focused at getting to the bottom of what goes wrong with the immune system to cause it to start attacking the central nervous system. Much of the success in MS therapies in recent years is directly related to immune system research.
The other research projects are in two other major scientific areas: One, looking at ways to stimulate the body to repair the protective myelin covering of the central nervous system - the target of immune system attacks; and two, using sophisticated tools such as magnetic resonance imaging to better understand what is happening in the brain and spinal cord during MS attacks.
"I am also pleased that we are able to maintain our strong scholarship program. By offering studentships and fellowships, the MS Society is able to attract many of the best and brightest young scientists to the MS field. This strategy is paying off now and in the future," added Dr. McIlroy.
The research announcement is part of the annual MS Awareness Month activities in May.
"Canadians have a special reason to be concerned about MS, because this country has one of the highest MS rates in the world. We estimate that 50,000 Canadians have multiple sclerosis and that during May another 80 people will learn they have the disease," said Dr. McIlroy.
MS research has brought progress in treating and managing MS. There are treatments available for the most common relapsing-remitting form of MS, and researchers are looking at many new approaches.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is a leader in funding MS research and services for people with MS, an unpredictable often disabling disease of the central nervous system that is most often diagnosed in young adults. However, researchers have found that children as young as four have developed the disease.
Throughout May, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada volunteers are taking part in awareness activities and fund raising events.
On May 7, members of Parliament will receive carnations when they enter the House of Commons for Question Period. This event will launch the 27th annual MS Carnation Campaign, which takes place on Mother's Day Weekend.
The annual MS Bequest Week takes place the week of May 26. Canadians can learn more about financial planning and how to make a lasting legacy in the fight against MS.
For information about local MS Awareness Month activities, contact the nearest MS Society division office at 1-800-268-7582. For more information about MS, call the toll-free number or go to www.mssociety.ca. Donations can be made on the web site by clicking "Give Now".
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that
randomly attacks the central nervous system, affecting the control
over all parts of their bodies.
© 2002 Canada NewsWire Ltd