Trish Genetics Investment Makes a Major Impact
The Trish MS Research Foundation was the seeding partner for the Australian and New Zealand Genetics Consortium (ANZgene). Without their contribution, Australasia’s largest study to identify genes that influence MS susceptibility could not have been undertaken. The Trish funding subsequently attracted over $2m in federal government and private donations.
The ANZgene Consortium analysed over 4,000 samples from people with and without MS. In June 2009, ANZgene published in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics with its discovery of two genetic regions linked to MS. One of these regions includes the vitamin D gene strengthening the argument that vitamin D may influence MS.
In the process of this study, ANZgene was able to create ‘The MSRA Gene Bank’ a distributed repository of blood and saliva samples from people with MS. This valuable national resource is accelerating further MS research by providing researchers with rapid access to clinical samples, gene sequencing and clinical data.
ANZgene’s success has led to further collaborations at a national and international scale. There have been two subsequent research projects wholly funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of over $1.1m. In addition, the ANZgene data has been used to publish no less than five research papers of MS genetics discoveries to date.
ANZgene is also involved in international collaborations as a member of the International MS Genetics Consortium (coordinated out of Cambridge University), the Wellcome Trust undertaking the world’s largest MS genetics study and with researchers at the University of California and the University of Washington.
The Trish Foundation’s initial investment of $200,000 has attracted over ten times that amount in further MS genetics research in Australia and overseas. In the process, it has developed an important national resource (The MSRA Gene Bank), made discoveries into the complex MS genetic interactions and further impetus for potential treatments and a prevention strategy.