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MS Kids

Research

Children with demyelination face an uncertain future, and a small proportion of these patients may go on to experience recurrent demyelinating attacks that characterize Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Why some patients experience a single attack, while others have recurrent attacks or MS is unknown. Our Paediatric Demyelinating Disease Program at SickKids, in collaboration with other site investigators across Canada, are examining the following areas:

1. Determining what acute demyelination looks like in a child

To look at the clinical symptoms, and recovery process of demyelination in children, we are collecting epidemiological data to determine whether children with demyelination have an increased 'genetic load' as measured by a family history of demyelination. We need the same information from healthy participants to compare and contrast what is happening in children with demyelination.

2. Determining what causes acute demyelination

Looking closely at the immune system of children with demyelination, researchers are attempting  to find out if there is something unique about the brain and spinal cord white matter (myelin) that somehow 'sets off' the immune system attack. It is also useful to have information from healthy immune systems so we can compare and contrast what is happening in children with demyelination to children who do not have this condition.

3. Determining the appearance of MS in a child's brain

We will use detailed MRI pictures to describe the pattern and appearance of demyelination in children. We also hope to determine if there are certain clinical or MRI features that are more common in children who develop MS, than in those who don't. The study will enable researchers to look closely at possible patterns of damage in the brain and spinal cord, and determine if certain patterns can predict who will go on to develop MS. Again, it is helpful to have MRI scans from children who do not have demyelination to help us understand what is happening in children who do.

Please visit Open Studies for more information on current research projects.

Healthy Children and Research

The participation of healthy children and teens in the different research projects is an important aspect of our work. In order to understand how demyelination and MS affects children and teens we need to examine healthy children to compare and contrast on different aspects. For example, we need to compare how a healthy brain looks on MRI in order to recognize the appearance of demyelination in the brain of a child with particular symptoms; or we need to see if the  viruses, diet or family genetics are different in healthy children compared to children and teens with demyelination, in particular those diagnosed with MS.

Please visit  Research Volunteers for more information.