Inaugural Betty Cuthbert
Postdoctoral Fellowship - 2006-2009
Helmut Butzkueven’s research for four years, funded by the Trish
Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation and NHMRC Betty Cuthbert Postdoctoral
Fellowship, was aimed at identifying some of the natural repair processes and
assess whether treatments designed to enhance naturally occurring repair may
provide additional treatment benefit.
The key interest in this respect is MS-related axonal injury. Axons, the
cables transmitting electricity between cells of the nervous system do not
regenerate when cut (trans-sected) by autoimmune damage, but not all axons in
areas of damage die.
Butzkueven fulfilled the two main aims of this Fellowship. Firstly,
together with his collaborators, he was able to directly measure axon
damage in mice using a special MRI scanning technique known as diffusion
scanning. The next step he undertook confirmed these findings in
people with MS and therefore paved the way for development of new MS treatments.
he confirmed that the neuroprotective drug LIF, which enhances naturally
occurring brain defences, directly protects both myelin and axons from immune
damage in the MS mouse model. As a result of this and prior work, LIF will
be developed as a treatment for MS.