Exploring how immune molecule MIF regulates inflammation in MS - MS Research Australia

Exploring how immune molecule MIF regulates inflammation in MS

Dr James Harris

Monash University, VIC

| Better treatments | Immunology | Incubator | 2019 | Investigator Led Research |


The immune system is constantly searching the body looking for invaders and once it discovers something it needs to attack, it sends signals around the rest of the body recruiting the rest of the immune system to the area. One way it does this is to release small chemical signals called cytokines into the blood stream which attract the rest of the immune system. These cytokines also alert surrounding cells of potential threats. One way to find out how the immune system is functioning in health and disease is to understand these signals.

Dr James Harris and his team are trying to work out the involvement of two such cytokines known as Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and NLRP3. Both of these cytokines have been linked to the inflammation and disease progression in MS.

Despite MIF being one of the first cytokines discovered, how it affects the rest of the cells in the body and the immune system is not fully understood. Recent work by Dr Harris’s group has highlighted a new role of MIF which includes stimulating the release of extra signalling molecules. These can recruit even more inflammatory factors potentially driving further damage in conditions such as MS.

This study will use genetic manipulation tools to further investigate how MIF works, how it controls the function of other cells and how it contributes to the disease process in MS. The team will also develop ways to test other chemicals, potential drugs, which may affect MIF function and could be used to dampen inflammation in MS. By furthering our understanding of how MIF regulates inflammation in MS, this project will allow for the development of more specific, targeted treatments for people with MS.

Updated: 23 January 2019

Updated: 02 January, 2019

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years



Grant Awarded

  • Incubator Grant

Total Funding

  • $25,000


  • 1 year - starting 2019

Funding Partner

  • The Rotary Club of Moorabbin
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