MS Queensland works closely and collaboratively with our national research arm, MS Research Australia, and provides funding towards MS Research Australia’s research effort. During 2015–16 we contributed a total of $548,979 to MS research; 29% of this figure to the MS Clinic in Brisbane and 71% to MS Research Australia.
MS Research Australia implements an informed scientific agenda to accelerate advances that will prevent, better treat and ultimately cure multiple sclerosis.
This agenda focuses on funding research and facilitating collaborations that will increase our understanding of the biology of MS, develop methods for preventing the disease and uncover ways to repair existing damage and reverse the disability caused by MS. MS Research Australia also supports social and applied research to investigate issues of practical importance to the lives of people with MS, such as social impact, employment and symptom management.
MS Research Australia focuses on the strengths of Australian researchers to contribute to the worldwide endeavour to solve and support MS. This is a medium to long-term strategy.
MS RESEARCH AUSTRALIA RESEARCH STRATEGY OVERVIEW
- What triggers MS? Can we prevent the onset of MS?
- What biology is driving MS? How can we stop it?
- Can existing neural damage be repaired or replaced?
QUEENSLAND RESEARCH SNAPSHOT
THE EFFECTS OF PROLONGED WEAR OF TEXTURED SHOE INSOLES ON WALKING IN PEOPLE WITH MS
Investigator: Dr Anna Hatton
Institution: University of Queensland
Total funding awarded: Project Grant $120,000
Duration: 3 years
Project Scope: Anna Hatton is running a clinical trial to test whether wearing textured shoe insoles may increase sensory feedback to improve the gait of people with MS. Walking problems in MS are often caused by a combination of typical symptoms, such as altered function of muscles, nerves, and senses. Therefore, the key to improving mobility is to use a range of different treatment techniques which address each of these symptoms. People with MS often have poor sensation on the soles of their feet. Dr Hatton will examine whether wearing a specially designed shoe insole, which enhances sensory information at the feet, could help people affected by MS to walk better.
EPIGENETIC SIGNATURES OF MS: FROM BRAIN TO BLOOD
Investigator: Ms Katherine Sanders
Institution: Bond University Queensland
Supervisor: Dr Lotti Tajouri
Total funding awarded: Scholarship $96,000
Duration: 3 years
Project Scope: Katherine Sanders is profiling molecules that control gene activity in tissue taken from MS lesions in the brain and body fluids to develop biomarkers for MS prognosis. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are molecules which are used by cells to control gene activity by different cell types. Since the genetic code contained in each cell is identical, this is one of the mechanisms by which characteristics of individual cell types are controlled. miRNAs are known to play roles in tissue growth and maintenance and changes in microRNAs have been shown to play a role in a number of diseases. Ms Sanders will be investigating the profile of miRNAs in MS brain lesions and determine whether these microRNAs can be detected in other body fluids such as blood during life. Since miRNA molecules are remarkably stable, there is great potential for them to be used as biomarkers to diagnose and predict disease outcome in MS.
ANTIBODY DETECTION AND GENETIC SCREENING IN NEUROMYELITIS OPTICA (NMO), A RARE VARIANT OF MS
Investigator: Prof Simon Broadley
Institution: Griffith University, Queensland
Project grant: $113,300
Project Scope: NMO is a rare variant of MS which accounts for approximately 1% of MS cases. Pathological studies and the recent identification of a specific antibody to a cell water channel (aquaporin-4) conclude that NMO is a distinct demyelinating disease. Limited data suggests that standard treatments for MS have little or no effect.
HOW GENETIC RISK FACTORS AFFECT THE FUNCTION OF IMMUNE CELLS IN MS
Investigator: Dr Margaret Jordan
Institution: James Cook University, Queensland
Research fellowship: $300,000
Project Scope: Dr Margaret Jordan (awarded a prestigious MS Research Australia-NHMRC Betty Cuthbert Fellowship) is determining how genetic risk factors affect the function of immune cells in MS. Much international work has led to the discovery of around 60 genes that influence a person’s susceptibility to MS. Functional genetics is now the next phase of this work and Dr Jordan’s research will reveal how these genes work and their role in the disease process.
IMMUNE CONTROL OF EPSTEIN-BARR VIRUS IN MS
Investigator: Prof Michael Pender
Institution: University of Queensland (UQ)
Project grant: $390,000
Project Scope: A large body of evidence indicates that infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has a role in MS. Prof Pender has shown that people with MS have decreased immunity to EBV which could allow the accumulation of EBV-infected cells in the brain and the subsequent development of MS. He has recently trialled a novel method to boost immunity to EBV in one patient with MS with encouraging results. In this grant he will continue to investigate the mechanisms by which EBV interacts with immune cells in people with MS to increase understanding for the development and refinement of future targeted treatments.
To view the list of MS research projects currently being funded in Australia please visit the MS Research Australia website by clicking here.