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Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada commits $3.8 million to research to kick off MS Awareness Month in May

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    Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada commits $3.8 million to research to kick off MS Awareness Month in May

    Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada commits $3.8 million to research to kick off MS Awareness Month in May

    TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ - 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 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 people have
    over all parts of their bodies.


    For further information: Deanna Groetzinger, Vice-President,
    Communications: (416) 967-3007; Cindy DesGrosseilliers, National Manager,
    Communications: (416) 967-3015