MS Research Australia is delighted to announce over $2 million in research funding, commencing in January 2018. The new grants cover a range of scientific and allied health disciplines to help determine the triggers for developing MS, improve treatments and, most importantly work towards curing MS. These grants were selected following a rigorous external review of applications from researchers which is overseen by our expert Research Management Council.
Each year the number and quality of the applications we receive continues to grow. This makes deciding what research to fund exceptionally challenging, but we are committed to funding the best science with the potential to impact the lives of people affected by MS.
The twenty new grants commencing in 2018 include innovative pilot (incubator) grants, project grants, scholarships, fellowships and travel awards and will run for the next one to three years. This brings a total of 44 new and ongoing investigator-led research projects currently being funded by MS Research Australia.
Progressive MS is the focus of a number of these projects, as it still remains one of the greatest challenges facing the MS community. Some of the projects focusing on progressive MS include Dr Peter Crouch, from the University of Melbourne and Dr Steven Petratos from Monash University. Both are testing novel drug approaches to protecting nerve cells in progressive MS and are building on their research previously funded by MS Research Australia. Dr Petratos is testing a repurposed drug, which originally was used for another neurological condition to attempt to repair the damage to the protective myelin sheath that occurs in MS. Dr Crouch is exploring whether a copper containing molecule, also being tested in motor neuron disease, can help slow the progression of progressive MS.
Another scientist studying progressive MS and successfully building on previous pilot funding is Associate Professor Justin Rubio, from The University of Melbourne. He is using cutting edge techniques to look at the entire genetic sequence in single cells in post-mortem brain tissue from people with MS, to identify changes that may affect how fast MS progresses.
MS Research Australia’s top priority is to find a cure for MS via repair and regeneration of cells. This year several new projects that target this goal are being funded. Professor Trevor Kilpatrick, from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, will research a specific protein in the brain, called Tyro3, which may enhance the body’s natural abilities to repair myelin. His team will try to repurpose medications that affect this protein to boost remyelination. In complimentary research, Associate Professor Sarah Spencer from RMIT University aims to repurpose an antibiotic to try and prevent the removal of myelin in the first place. Dr Carlie Cullen from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, will continue her efforts to enhance the body’s natural ability to repair myelin using non-invasive magnetic stimulation. The outcomes of these projects will hopefully lead to improved myelin repair in people with MS.
In this latest round of funding several early-stage clinical trials are being supported to help improve the everyday lives of people with MS. One such trial is being carried out by Dr Ollie Jay from the University of Sydney. This trial builds on the results from his previous Incubator Grant, to further assess ways to reduce heat-related fatigue in people with MS. Professor Stephen Lord from NeuRa will pilot an innovative program to help people with MS recover from slips or trips and prevent falls. Dr Hans Bogaardt from the University of Sydney, will determine if electrical stimulation of certain muscles can benefit people with MS who have swallowing difficulties.
This is just a brief overview of some of the new research projects funded in 2018, full details of these and the other projects we are funding in 2018 can be found on our website here.