29 April 2011
Finding a cure for MS
A leading US research and lobby group has invested $500,000 in multiple sclerosis research being done at RMIT University's Health Innovation Research Institute.
Multiple sclerosis researcher, Dr Steven Petratos, has received a grant from America’s National MS Society.
Dr Steven Petratos, from the Institute and the School of Medical Sciences, was one of only two Australian researchers to receive the support of the National MS Society (NMSS).
The NMSS said in a statement that its members, people with MS in the US, were keen for it to support the best research, wherever in the world it was conducted.
The symptoms of MS are caused by destruction of the protective insulation (myelin) that surrounds the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord.
Dr Petratos will be investigating damage to the nerve fibres, or axons, that may occur before myelin damage.
Damage to the nerve fibres occurs in the very early stages of MS and there is evidence that this damage is a major cause of the neurological symptoms of MS.
Dr Petratos will investigate ways to block the molecules which cause axon degeneration with the hope that the research will lead to novel treatments that may limit neurological decline in MS.
"We are about a third of the way into it," Dr Petratos said. "We hope we can help to find a cure, as this disease is particularly devastating to young women in their prime, and their families."
Multiple sclerosis affects almost 20,000 Australians and numbers are increasing. MS is an incurable, chronic and often disabling disease.
The progress, severity and symptoms are different for everyone. Symptoms range from tingling and numbness to paralysis and blindness.
The research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr Christopher Siatskas of Monash University, as well as researchers at Yale University and the University of Toronto.
MS Research Australia is also funding part of the research.