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Sunnybrook scientist receives $5 million grant for MS research

Sep 12, 2018

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Congratulations to Dr. Anthony Feinstein, Director of Sunnybrook’s Neuropsychiatry Program, who has been awarded a $5 million research grant from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Dr. Feinstein will be leading a bold global initiative to investigate treatment options for people living with progressive MS and experiencing cognitive decline. Up to 70 per cent of patients with progressive MS experience cognitive dysfunction, which can affect aspects of everyday life from relationships, to employment, social activities and beyond.

“These issues are critically important to people with MS,” says Dr. Feinstein. “The effects are pervasive.”

Dr. Feinstein will be spearheading the study, which involves experts from six countries including Canada, the United States, the U.K., Denmark, Belgium and Italy. Researchers will be investigating the combination of cognitive rehabilitation and exercise as a potential treatment to help improve thinking and memory in these patients.

“Where the study is novel, is we are looking to see whether we can in fact, improve cognition. Can we restore some cognitive function? We don’t know whether you can do that with progressive MS, so I think our study has the best chance of answering this question,” says Dr. Feinstein.

“Ultimately, we hope to show that aerobic exercise, and cognitive rehabilitation can improve cognition. We think the combined interventions are better than any one on it’s own,” he adds.

The Canadian-driven study is the first of its kind to incorporate multiple international centres and a large number of study participants.

“It’s a collective effort. You couldn’t do a study like this without expertise from these people around the world,” says Dr. Feinstein. “We’re not tackling any easy questions here, so I think at the end of the day we can do something that, clinically, is very meaningful.”