May 11, 2017 – In a major boost for multiple sclerosis (MS), a promising new
treatment that may prevent nervous system damage in MS will be developed. The
research will be led by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH),
working with University of Toronto’s Centre for Collaborative Drug Research
(CCDR), with support from a major new grant funded by the National MS Society and
the MS Society of Canada.
“We will build upon our earlier discovery of a
new MS treatment approach, to develop new molecules with optimal properties for
drug development,” says Dr. Fang Liu, Senior Scientist in CAMH’s Campbell Family
Mental Health Research Institute and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry
at the University of Toronto.
sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous
system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the
brain and body. In progressive forms of MS, chronic neurodegeneration occurs
that results in the steady accumulation of disability. Thus far, therapies that
are effective for relapsing MS have shown limited to no efficacy in progressive
MS. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, according to the Atlas of MS.
developing a neuroprotective therapy to prevent nervous system damage and
progression in MS. Dr. Liu and her team have expertise in developing peptide
molecules that, in the lab, disrupt abnormal activity on specific neurons, to
reduce symptoms of illness with minimal side effects. They have successfully
applied this approach to create potential new treatments for depression,
schizophrenia and other brain-based illnesses.
earlier MS research, also funded by the National
MS Society and the MS Society of Canada, the team showed that blocking the
interaction between two proteins that form a complex -- GluR2 and GAPDH --
provides neuroprotection by preventing nerve tissue damage caused by too much
of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is known as excitotoxicity. These
results were published in the Annals of
Clinical and Translational Neurology in 2015. Many attempts to prevent
excitotoxicity in the past have impaired normal communications between neurons
in the brain.
create an effective, long-lasting medication for treatment, Dr. Liu’s team formed
a collaboration with Dr. Iain Greig, a
visiting medicinal chemistry expert from the University of Toronto’s CCDR. Dr.
Greig’s team at the University of Aberdeen developed small molecules capable of
blocking the GluR2-GAPDH complex. Small molecules are common in drug
development as they can be taken orally and are easily absorbed by the body.
has identified two chemically distinct early lead compounds that reduce
excitotoxicity. They are now seeking to make new molecules with optimal
properties for drug development and to test the most promising in MS models.
National MS Society is committed to accelerating development of commercial
research opportunities towards clinical use,” said Mark Allegretta, PhD, Associate Vice President of Commercial
Research at the Society. “We are pleased to partner with the MS Society of
Canada to support this medicinal chemistry effort to improve the properties of
small molecules targeting the GluR2 - GAPDH complex.”
initiative is a multi-institution effort. “This is exactly the type of exciting
drug discovery partnership opportunity that the Centre for Collaborative Drug
Research seeks to enable,” says Prof.
Ruth Ross, Director of the Centre. The CCDR was established in 2013 and is
a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy
research also benefited from past proof-of-principle funding awards from CAMH’s
Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute
and the Canadian Institutes of Health
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's
largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health.
CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and
addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and
is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating
Centre. For more information, follow us on twitter @CAMHnews
for Collaborative Drug Research was established in 2013 and is a partnership
between the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and CAMH.
For further information:
Sean O'Malley, Senior Media Relations Specialist, 416-595-6015, email@example.com
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by
funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating
professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world,
and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their
families move their lives forward. The National MS Society is committed to
achieving a world free of MS.
information, visit www.nationalMSsociety.org.
sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada
Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is a
chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the
brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. It is one of the most common neurological
diseases affecting young adults in Canada. Most people with MS are
diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, and the unpredictable effects of MS
last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides services to people
with MS and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for
this disease. Please visit mssociety.ca or call
1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or for more information.
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