Canadian biomarker research: How could it improve the standard of care in MS?

Canadian biomarker research: How could it improve the standard of care in MS?

The evolution of medical research is bringing new hope to people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system.

Known to be unpredictable, with a spectrum of symptoms that manifest differently among each person living with the disease, care teams face challenges in identifying and monitoring subtle changes of MS progression. While experts agree that there is a need for tailored, personalized and adaptive treatment strategies based on individual needs, the gap remains in identifying when to deploy them effectively.

Novartis Canada is paving the way for a more proactive approach to care and innovation in the field. The company aims to improve the standard of care by enabling doctors to act prior to the onset of irreversible damage with the goal of expediting real-time optimization of treatment and care strategies.

“As a leader in life sciences, we are pushing the boundaries of innovation beyond the traditional confines of therapeutics to reimagine the standard of care in a more holistic way, and to discover new solutions that the MS community can benefit from,” says Erin Keith, vice-president, neuroscience at Novartis Canada.

The main way disease progression is detected in MS today is through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which looks for new or growing brain lesions. Keith says that subtle progression and early changes often go undetected, making it challenging for care teams to intervene early, before brain damage occurs.

To address this, Novartis Canada is focused on the expansion of research to support the identification of novel biomarkers in MS. A biomarker is an objective measure that helps assess disease severity and can also reveal how someone is responding to their treatment. Although biomarkers have been widely studied in major disease areas such as cancer and heart disease, today, there is increased interest in developing disease-specific biomarkers that could estimate disease severity and cognitive status in people living with MS.

“Identifying subtle changes in disease progression and determining how and when to deploy the right treatment could pave the way to redefine innovation and lay the foundation for a modernized approach to care,” Keith says.

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