Ways to help
About us
Contact Us
Home >
Feb 2017
Trish Foundation contributes to first-ever discovery
Jun 2017
Researchers funded by the Trish Foundation making great progress
Dec 2017
Announcement by NHMRC
Jan 2018
2018 Round of Funding Four new Projects announced
Jun 2018
Exciting regrowth of nerve fibres
Jun 2018
Dr Merson secures $1 million from NHMRC
Jun 2018
Findings submitted for publication
Jan 2019
New Research Projects commencing 2019 announced

The role of Vitamin D related
genes in MS  

Investigator        Dr Lawrence Ong, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research

Supervisor           Associate Professor David Booth, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research

Funding                Betty Cuthbert Postgraduate Scholarship co-funded by MS Research Australia/ National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Total award $122,714 over 2016-2018 (50% funded by the NHMRC) 

MS Research Australia contribution provided with full funding support from the Trish Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation.

The Trish Foundation is honoured to be co-funding this important Research Project with the National Health and Medical Research Council. 


Blood levels of Vitamin D are known to be associated with MS disease activity. We also know that several genes which are involved in activating Vitamin D are also involved in susceptibility to the disease. Vitamin D3 levels appear to predict clinical progress in multiple sclerosis. The reasons for this are unclear, but may be linked to the effect of the Vitamin D Receptor (VDR) on a subset of immune cells.

Dr Ong’s PhD project aims to determine the mechanisms by which these genes make individuals more or less prone to developing multiple sclerosis. Specifically, this project aims to identify key genes which are regulated by the Vitamin D receptor, by using specific gene sequencing technologies combined with knowledge of the genes which confer risk of developing MS. Dr Ong will first study the relationship between Vitamin D receptor activity and the growth and development of immune messenger cells called dendritic cells. Next, Dr Ong will identify the key genes that are influenced by the Vitamin D receptor activity and how the gene activity is altered in response to Vitamin D. This work may ultimately help to identify the molecular pathways that cause MS and potential treatment strategies.

This project is innovative in its aim to identify the specific molecular pathways that are regulated by the Vitamin D receptor using state-of-the-art gene sequencing technologies. Identification of these pathways may provide a target for directed therapy for treatment or prevention of MS in susceptible individuals. It is hoped that by understanding the molecular targets of the Vitamin D receptor, that targeted therapies may be developed for the treatment of MS.  

Trish Foundation & MS Research Australia Working together to find a cure for MS
Copyright © Trish Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation. All rights reserved.