WINNIPEG – It’s a disease more prevalent in Manitoba than any other province per capita – multiple sclerosis.
And now a new University of Manitoba research chair is being funded to help patients affected by MS.
The Waugh Family Foundation is donating $2-million to fund Ruth Ann Marrie to lead research on the disease.
Dr. Marrie is the director of the MS clinic at HSC and a professor in the faculty of medicine.
She says the position and funding will help them do more for MS patients around the world.
“To expand on the research that we’re currently doing here, to continue to develop collaborations around the world to really try and accelerate the pace at which research progresses, in the hopes that we can improve the lives of people with MS now but ultimately prevent it for people in the future,” she said.
She says some of the strides that have been made lately are significant.
“Many of the things that are really being studied right now – if you’d have asked me five years ago if they’d be here yet, I would have said no, so I think things are really moving forward,” she said.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system. It attacks the protective coating (myelin) that covers nerve fibres. When myelin is damaged, the signal from your brain doesn’t get to its intended end point.
Some of the symptoms – extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, poor balance, numbness, vision problems, bladder problems and cognitive impairment.
It’s estimated between 3,000 and 3,500 Manitobans have MS.
Some of the research being worked on in Manitoba includes studying the effects of other conditions with MS, like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, and whether or not they lead to more hospitalizations or faster progression of the disease.
The province is also pledging $1.1-million to MS research.