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