The Ausimmune Study is a major epidemiological study undertaken in four Australian regions on the eastern seaboard, ranging from Brisbane in the north, through Newcastle and Geelong, to Tasmania in the south. The study aims to identify environmental factors that may be important in the development of MS.
From 1 Nov 2003 to 31 Dec 2006 the Ausimmune Study recruited 283 people with a first clinical diagnosis of central nervous system demyelination (cases). For each of these people the study also recruited 1 to 4 non-affected persons randomly selected from the Australian Electoral Roll. Following recruitment, each participating case was contacted annually to assess their health status, and, from 1 Jan 2007 to 31 Dec 2008 participated in a full face-to-face review, with data on health status as well as any changes in environmental factors of interest.
The study collected data on a broad range of factors of importance using questionnaires, examination by a study doctor and/or nurse and blood sampling. Measurement of vitamin D levels in the blood on all participants has recently been completed and genetic and viral studies are currently underway.
Preliminary results show that a development of central nervous system demyelination is significantly more common with increasingly southerly latitude. Further work will identify the causes behind this pattern, in the hopes that it may provide information to decrease the risks of developing MS.
Updated: 05 January, 2006