New funding paves the way for novel treatment approaches in Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers from The Florey have been awarded new three-year funding to continue vital research in Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

The Florey’s researchers will share in the $2.4 million in grants announced by MS Research Australia for projects commencing in January 2020.

Professor Trevor Kilpatrick and Dr Vivien Li from The Florey will investigate novel immune-based therapies to treat MS.

MS is a neurological disease that occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks the insulating covering around nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord called ‘myelin’. Progress has been made in the early disease stages of MS with a number of treatments available, but so far, finding ones that are effective for later phases of the disease, which can lead to progressive disability, has proven more difficult. Therapies currently available generally limit the ability of the immune system to directly attack nerve cells.

Professor Trevor Kilpatrick says that potentially a more potent method is to prevent the abnormal response of the immune system in the first place. This is the innovative approach his team are undertaking in their research project, aiming to deliver an inhibitory signal to the immune system.

“This approach could lead to new treatments that are particularly relevant to the significant proportion of people living with MS genetically predisposed to excessive immune responses,” said Prof Kilpatrick.

Undertaking her PhD with Prof Kilpatrick, the research of Dr Vivien Li also focuses on immune signalling. By modifying cell signals to dampen down abnormal immune activation, her goal is to develop new therapies to combat the disease.

“I hope my research can advance MS treatment, especially in progressive forms of the disease for which there are few effective disease-modifying therapies currently available.”

Dr Matthew Miles, CEO of MS Research Australia, said he looked forward to the outcomes of these research projects.

“We are excited to see the results of these Florey Institute researchers’ efforts in the coming years. Their findings will contribute to our understanding of MS and accelerate progress towards achieving our ultimate goal to stop and reverse MS.”

Click to read more information on the MS research projects undertaken by Professor Trevor Kilpatrick and Dr Vivien Li.