Charting the future of MS care
We asked MS neurologist Dr. Raphael Schneider to tell us what excites him about his research and the potential impact of the new BARLO MS Centre.
Dr. Raphael Schneider is a neurologist at St. Michael’s Hospital and an associate scientist at the Keenan Centre for Biomedical Science who specializes in multiple sclerosis (MS) research. We asked MS neurologist Dr. Raphael Schneider to tell us what excites him about his research and the potential impact of the new BARLO MS Centre.
What made you want to join the BARLO MS Centre?
One of the main reasons was to work with Dr. Jiwon Oh, who had already established several important projects to study progression in MS. Her research expertise is in medical imaging and mine is in immunology, and I saw ample opportunity to work together on exciting research projects.
What is the focus of your research?
My research group is working toward establishing tests to help determine a patient’s prognosis. Since the immune system plays a key role in MS, we measure immune cell activity in the blood and spinal fluid of people with MS. We believe this will help determine who will develop more severe symptoms in the future.
What can this tell us about MS progression?
We hope to establish biomarkers that will tell us how likely a person with MS will develop severe disease. Given that we now have many disease-modifying therapies available for people with MS, blood and spinal fluid biomarkers could soon be used to tailor treatment to an individual’s needs.
What else are you excited about right now?
The recent success of RNA vaccines for COVID-19 shows how potent these molecules are. In the laboratory, we now measure thousands of RNAs in cells from people with MS. We believe that looking into a person’s RNAs will eventually provide a means to understand their MS better.
Are you optimistic about our potential to improve treatment and ultimately defeat MS?
Yes! Over the last few years, there has been tremendous progress in our understanding of MS and how to improve therapies. We are diagnosing MS earlier now, which allows for the early initiation of treatment. This can improve long-term outcomes and quality of life for people with MS.
What will the new BARLO MS Centre mean for scientists and patients?
We will be able to provide more comprehensive care. There is space for other specialists and allied health professionals to increase the multidisciplinary nature of our team. I think patients will appreciate that we are moving toward a more holistic approach to patient care. MS research will be a top priority, and with many of our patients participating in research studies, I believe that the BARLO will become the world’s top MS research centre.
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