Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common neurodegenerative disease of young adults in our community, unfortunately striking people who are otherwise in the prime of their life.
The group aims to make fundamental discoveries that will improve our capacity to treat and ultimately prevent this debilitating disease.
Our MS research continues to gain wide scientific and media attention. The group has recently reported on two genes associated with MS. The first region encompasses a number of genes, a prime candidate of which is a molecule responsible for the conversion of inactive Vitamin D to its active form. The second association is for a gene that modifies immune cell activation. Interestingly, this same gene has already been identified to be associated with other autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and Grave’s disease.
Most MS disability is thought to be caused by nerve cell and in particular axon (threadlike part of the nerve that carries impulses) injury within and surrounding inflammatory demyelinating lesions. Although this process is not currently treated, drugs are in advanced pre-clinical development. Unfortunately, the lack of a reliable and validated biomarker of axonal injury is preventing the clinical testing of these therapies. We have been attempting to identify a suite of markers that can be used to test the efficacy of novel neuroprotective agents that we and others believe could be useful treatments for MS.