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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Chance meeting on Banff ski trip sets in motion promising new multiple sclerosis therapies


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Hotchkiss trainees' collaborative study finds new approach to repairing damaged nerve cells, enhancing brain repair

By Kristy Cross              

Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) trainee looking for the next big discovery in multiple sclerosis (MS) research got a surprise break while on a ski trip to Banff with some new friends — unveiling a new approach to repair damaged nerve cells.
MS is a neurological disease that attacks myelin, the protective covering surrounding nerve cells. It can leave the patient with devastating symptoms such as extreme fatigue, lack of co-ordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes. The disease affects 100,000 Canadians and approximately 340 out of every 100,000 Albertans.  
Michael Keough, a joint MD-PhD student in the Leaders in Medicine program at the Cumming School of Medicine, was searching for better therapies for patients with MS, when he hit a roadblock. Keough, who works in the lab of V. Wee Yong, PhD at HBI lab, was investigating the regeneration of myelin.
He found that he couldn’t move forward in his project without a cheaper supply of a compound that he thought would promote regeneration of damaged nerve cells. It wasn’t until he ran into a chemistry student while carpooling to Sunshine Village that he got his big break. The chance meeting proved extremely valuable.
“As we talked about our respective research, I was shocked to learn she was from a lab that could do exactly what I needed,” 

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