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Former teacher with MS inspires her students, and her doctor

Former teacher with MS inspires her students, and her doctor

The most important thing Margo Murchison, an Ottawa teacher with multiple sclerosis, taught her primary school students was that “people who have disabilities have abilities too.”

“The students thought my scooter was the coolest,” said Ms. Murchison, now retired after teaching for 20 years. “One girl even asked Santa for a scooter for Christmas.”

The students weren’t the only ones inspired by Ms. Murchison. Dr. Mark Freedman, her neurologist for more than 20 years, was also inspired by her incredible strength and optimism.

“Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a very difficult disease, and when Margo was first diagnosed many years ago, there wasn’t much we could do for people with MS,” said Dr. Freedman, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit at The Ottawa Hospital and a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. “Margo and other patients like her made me realize that we need to develop better treatments, and research is the only way to do this.”


Margo Murchison is hopeful that, through research, people who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis today will have many more options than she has had.

Over the years, Ms. Murchison has participated in two clinical trials of experimental therapies.

“It is very exciting to be involved in a clinical trial,” she said. “Of course, it is an experiment, so you don’t know if you will benefit, but at least there is hope that the results of research will help other people.”

Dr. Freedman recently launched Canada’s first clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for MS, with funding from the MS Society of Canada, as well as support from The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

Like other kinds of stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells can give rise to other more specialized types of cells, however their therapeutic potential for MS comes more from their ability to modify the immune system, reduce inflammation and release factors that help prevent and repair tissue damage.

“I have great hope for this research, and for MS research in general,” said Ms. Murchison. “Over the last 30 years, I’ve seen many new developments in MS treatment and I really do feel that we’re getting close to a cure. I believe that people who are diagnosed with MS today will have many more options than I did.”

For further information, read the media release.


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