Developing a new drug to repair the brain in MS - MS Research Australia

Developing a new drug to repair the brain in MS

Dr Steven Petratos

Monash University, VIC

| A cure via repair and regeneration | Neurobiology | Project | 2020 | Investigator Led Research |


Dr Steven Petratos and his team are trying to turn back the clock in MS. MS is caused when the immune system attacks and damages myelin the insulating sheath on nerve fibres. This damage impedes nerve signals travelling along nerves and leaves the cells vulnerable to degeneration. The disruption of nerve signals results in MS symptoms.

Currently, there are no therapies which can repair or restore damage to myelin, for relapsing-remitting MS there are a number of therapies which can inhibit the immune system, but for progressive forms of the disease there are only limited treatment options. Dr Petratos is looking to repurpose a drug  (DITPA) already approved for use in a rare neurological condition. He has already shown that this drug may slow the progression of MS in a laboratory model of MS, and that it might enhance the body’s ability to repair the myelin sheath and repair some of the damage caused by MS, which might help turn back the clock in MS.

Dr Petratos will investigate the mechanisms by which DITPA works and how it might help regenerate the myelin sheath, his early work suggests that this drug might help generate new cells which can repair the damage.

If this project is successful and the drug is shown to be safe and has a clinical impact, it is hoped that it could enter clinical trials in people. It is hoped that its development could be accelerated due to the fact it is already in clinical use for another disease.

Updated: 22 January 2020

Updated: 21 January, 2020

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



  • Dr Nick Wong

Grant Awarded

  • Project Grant

Total Funding

  • $226,791


  • 3 years – starting 2020

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