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Breakthrough study shows great promise

2012 Progress Report Helmet Butzkueven

   

Dr Helmut Butzkueven received an MSRA project grant in 2010 supported by the Trish Foundation. Working at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes, Dr Butzkueven is an internationally respected neurologist and highly active MS research working in the areas of genetic and clinical science.  In this project Dr Butzkueven’s work has focused on the protein Dab2 which has been shown to increase nerve cell damage in animal models of MS.

By tracking the ‘signaling’ molecules that send messages between different types of cells, Dr Butzkueven has shown that microglia may be responsible for this increased damage. Microglia are the ‘clean up’ cells which scavenge the brain and spinal cord for damaged tissue. Dr Butzkueven is also completing work looking at how the Dab2 protein interacts with other molecules within these cells and whether reducing the amount of Dab2 protein alters the severity of MS. ‘We are now trying to understand exactly how this works, ultimately hoping to block its action to reduce MS severity,’ said Dr Butzkueven.

In exciting new work, Dr Butzkueven and his team have now shown that the Dab2 may also be involved in human disease. The Dab2 protein was shown to be present in very active and acute lesions in human MS brain tissue. However, Dab2 was not seen in chronic lesions. At present, available treatments for MS reduce attacks but do not completely prevent disability progression. Dr Butzkueven’s work demonstrates that Dab2 may provide a potential target for pharmacological agents and may provide clues to finding treatments that prevent MS progression. 

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