Neurologist Dr. Michael Levin, inaugural Chair in Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Research at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), is among 12 U of S researchers awarded Collaborative Innovation Development grants by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) for 2017-18.
Levin and co-applicants Josef Buttigieg, a neurophysiologist at the University of Regina (U of R), and Gillian Muir in the U of S Department Of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, were awarded $50,000 for research to develop “A novel therapy that attacks the pathologic immune response in multiple sclerosis (MS).”
They have developed and are testing a new drug designed to stop the body’s auto-immune response (white blood cells) from attacking the myelin coating on nerves in the brain and spinal cords of MS patients.
Their new drug molecule has three pieces. The first is myelin. The second is a protein that enables the drug to get into a cell. The third part of the tri-molecular complex kills the cell.
“The trick is designing a medication that only attacks the bad immune cells and leaves the good ones alone. This is important because all the current MS medications don’t do that,” said Levin.
“Our hope—we’re testing it on an animal model—is that we inject the drug and it can really hone in on just the pathologic white blood cells. We think it’s a very, very specific way to attack not all the white blood cells in people’s blood or the brain, but just the ones that cause MS.”
The SHRF grant is exciting and sets the groundwork for establishing a province-wide vision for MS research and care, said Levin, adding that networking with the U of R is a great start.
Read more about Dr. Levin and the other six CoM recipients on the University of Saskatchewan website.