Why #BurgersToBeatMS is critical to advancing research in Canada

Burgers to Beat MS day raises funds to help improve the lives of Canadians living with multiple sclerosis. This fundraising campaign led the MS Society of Canada in partnership with A&W Food Services of Canada Inc has already raised over $9 million over the past 8 years, and this year A&W increased their donation to $2 from every Teen Burger® sold across the country on this day. Burgers to Beat MS creates an opportunity for people across the country to come together to support Canadian-led efforts to better understand MS and find a cure, while enjoying a delicious Teen Burger®.

The cause of MS is still a mystery and researchers continue to examine ways to prevent, diagnose and treat this highly unpredictable and often debilitating disease.  Support from A&W allows the MS Society to invest in innovative research, support international research collaborations, and translate discoveries from ideas to new clinical tools and treatments.

Here are some projects that would not be possible without the amazing fundraising efforts of A&W and other dedicated partners and volunteers of the MS Society:

Shannon Kolind from the University of British Columbia was awarded nearly $300,000 for her imaging research. A common tool used for the diagnosis and monitoring of MS is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Recently, MRI has been used to not only identify MS but track its progression. Researchers look at changes in brain volume using MRI to determine if progression is occurring, however this can take over a year to confirm and is not always accurate. Dr. Kolind’s research team wants to explore if the loss of myelin, the protective covering over nerve fibers, could be a better predictor of progression and thus could serve as a biomarker. Using imaging, Dr. Kolind plans to measure structural changes in myelin in the hopes of identifying individuals with MS who are at risk for progression, and reduce the time required for progressive MS trials.

Dr. George Robertson from Dalhousie University was awarded over $300,000 to examine whether nine drugs that are used to treat other diseases may have benefits for MS, specifically mobility. To achieve this, Dr. Robertson will administer these drugs to mice with an MS-like disease and observe their movement while they are using a treadmill. He will  perform a detailed analysis of gait parameters such as joint movement and ankle movement. The goal of this work is to develop a tool that can identify promising therapies that will improve mobility in individuals with MS.

Dr. Dalia Rotstein from the University of Toronto was awarded over $150,000 to study rates of MS amongst immigrants to Canada to better understand why Canada is one of the highest risk regions for MS in the world. Immigrants are thought to be at lower risk for developing MS than people born in Canada, but their risk is still believed to be higher than that in their native countries. Dr. Rotstein’s work will lead to the creation of one of the largest and most diverse cohort of immigrants with MS. By studying this unique group of individuals, Dr. Rostein will inform the creation of tailoured health care strategies for immigrant populations with MS, while also providing important insights into risk factors for MS in general.

These are only a few of the many studies funded by the MS Society that are advancing our understanding and management of MS. Fundraising campaigns like Burgers to Beat MS are imperative to ensuring the success and of this work and creating a strong and talented network of MS researchers in Canada. I hope that all of you will grab a Teen Burger® today to continue supporting the advancement of MS research in Canada.

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Categories Research

National vice-president, research, past MS researcher, and PhD in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from University of Ottawa. Leads the MS Society's research program to find the cure for MS and improve the quality of life for people affected by the disease.

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