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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

Incubator Grant’s encouraging progress  

Professor Heinrich Körner and Professor Bruce Taylor of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, Tasmania, were awarded a MS Research Australia incubator grant with the support of the Trish Foundation for MS Research in 2014.

Their goal was to look at whether variations in the vitamin D processing genes change the way the T-cells of the immune system are activated in people with MS.

Low vitamin D levels are a known risk factor for MS and variations in the genes that process vitamin D have also been identified among the 100 genetic variations recently identified as increasing susceptibility to MS. However, very little is known about exactly how these genetic variations change the biology and function of immune cells in a way that can lead to MS.

Over the last year, Professors Körner and Taylor, have been identifying people with MS and healthy individuals who carry a specific variation in one of the genes involved in vitamin D processing in the body. They have collected blood samples from these people and have successfully grown the T-cells from these blood samples in dishes in the laboratory.

By activating an immune response in the T-cells in the dish, in the presence of vitamin D, the team have been able to see distinct differences in the way the T-cells from people with the genetic variation respond when compared with T-cells from people with the ‘healthy’ version of the gene.

It is still early days in this project and the team need to collect more blood samples to ensure that the difference they are seeing is a real effect and can be shown to be statistically significant. However, this is very encouraging progress, and the team are confident that by the end of the year they will have some exciting results to share.

These results will shed vital light on exactly how and why the immune system malfunctions in MS, providing clear direction on how we might restore healthy immune function and stop the disease.

Trish Foundation & MS Research Australia Working together to find a cure for MS
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