Health

Progressive MS study gains $3.8M grant

Canadian researchers investigating the role of inflammation in multiple sclerosis will receive a $3.8 million grant towards their efforts.

Canadian researchers investigating the role of inflammation in multiple sclerosis will receive a $3.8 million grant towards their efforts.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation announced the grant on Tuesday to fund the work of Dr. Peter Stys from the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute. 
A new study is exploring if the inflammatory response in MS is the result of an underlying degenerative process. (CBC)

Stys, along with researchers at the University of British Columbia, Laval University and the VU University in Amsterdam, is focusing on damage that occurs in MS before inflammation — an area that may have special relevance for those with progressive forms of the disease.

So far, MS is mainly attributed to an autoimmune attack that causes damage to the central nervous system.

"This study hypothesizes that the inflammatory response in MS is the result of an underlying degenerative process rather than the primary cause of injury," Stys, the lead researcher at U of C's department of clinical neurosciences, said in a release. "In other words, an underlying mechanism causes degeneration that prompts the inflammatory process, which in turn causes more degeneration."

About 10 per cent of people with MS are diagnosed with primary progressive MS.

Secondary progressive MS is more common. It begins as relapsing remitting MS, but within 10 years half of the people diagnosed with relapsing MS go on to develop secondary progressive, the society said.

There are seven "disease modifying treatments" approved for relapsing MS in Canada, but the progressive forms of MS is less well understood.