June 2, 2017

MS Society of Canada continues collaboration with the Centre for Drug Research and Development as new translational project on progressive MS is launched

The MS Society of Canada and Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) are excited to collaborate again to support a translational research project that could lead to the development of disease-modifying therapies for people living with progressive MS. Following a peer review process by experts in MS and translational research, Dr. Philippe Séguéla from the Montreal Neurological Institute has been selected to work with CDRD to further develop his progressive MS translational project focused on blocking specific ion channels in the brain. The MS Society has committed $120,100 for this work, which has been made possible through the generous support of Women Against Multiple Sclerosis (WAMS) and the funds raised through their annual Gala.

Dr. Phillipe Séguéla’s Project:

Cells in the brain called neurons communicate with each other through electrical or chemical signals. Some of these signals occur through the movement of small molecules (ions) between neurons. On the surfaces of the neurons are channels that transport the ions in and out of the cell. A group of the channels called the acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) have been shown to contribute to neurodegeneration in MS. Researchers have identified an increased presence of ASICs in brain lesions, and have shown that blocking their function is neuroprotective in animals that mimic MS disease.

With the help of experts at CDRD, Dr. Séguéla’s research team propose to identify compounds that inhibit ASICs and hence can limit neurodegeneration in progressive MS. To complete this objective, CDRD will screen thousands of small molecules using cells that contain the ion channels of interest, to determine if any of them are able to block the channel (the cells have been previously developed by Dr. Séguéla). Dr. Séguéla’s lab will then confirm through various experiments that the molecules are indeed able to block the function of ASICs, and then will improve the potency of the molecules in an effort to make them effective drugs.

Based on these findings, future work will involve testing the molecules in animal models of MS-like disease with the ultimate goal of establishing promising therapeutic candidates for progressive MS.


While there are 13 disease-modifying therapies approved in Canada for relapsing-remitting MS, there is an unmet need to establish therapeutics for progressive MS. The partnership between the MS Society and CDRD is critical to advancing research from the laboratory to the clinic. By harnessing CDRD’s industry-grade drug development and commercialization infrastructure, Dr. Séguéla is poised to bridge the gap between discovery research and clinical trials.