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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 2014
2015 Funding announced
Mar 2015
Investigating new treatment options
Oct 2015
Progress in MS Research Conference
Feb 2016
2016 Round of Funding
Sep 2016
Dr Gu's Incubator Grant announced
Jan 2017
New Research Projects commencing 2017 announced

Research Progress Report

Preventing brain and spinal cord damage in Multiple Sclerosis

The Trish Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation is currently supporting a talented young PhD student at Monash University in Melbourne. Mr Jae Young Lee began his doctoral studies in 2013, and over the past 12 months has made extraordinary progress in his novel work exploring methods for preventing the degeneration of myelin and nerve fibres in MS.      

The protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres, known as myelin, allows the efficient transmission of electrical nerve impulses. It is known that MS is initiated by the body’s own immune cells, which mistakenly attack myelin and nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord, preventing the nerves from transmitting signals.

Supervised by established MS researcher, Dr Steven Petratos, Mr Lee’s work is using novel analysis approaches to explore whether the damage to myelin and nerve fibres in MS could be avoided, by targeting a compound that has been linked with the structural degeneration of nerves.

Dr Petratos and his team recently identified that a pathway involving a molecule known as the Nogo Receptor (NgR) may be important in the earliest stages of nerve fibre damage in mice with MS-like disease. They have shown that blocking this pathway can limit the extent of nerve damage. Mr Lee’s PhD work has expanded on these findings, showing that blocking the actions of NgR was also associated with significantly less damage to the myelin surrounding the nerve fibres in these mice. These findings provide confirmation that the NgR influences the structure of both nerve fibres and the myelin surrounding them, and suggests that NgR may be a useful target for future treatment development in MS, to prevent illness progression and deterioration.  

In further exploration of the role of NgR, Mr Lee and his colleagues have developed genetically modified mice with MS-like illness that also lack a crucial gene involved in the NgR pathway, and found that these mice tended to show less severe disease symptoms. Further study of these mice identified that they may have specific differences in the structure of their myelin and nerve fibres compared to MS-like mice that are not lacking this gene.  

Over the next two years Mr Lee has ambitious aims for the remainder of his PhD, and will be using human stem cells in the laboratory to grow ‘oligodendrocyte progenitor’ cells, which are the parent cells of myelin-producing oligodendrocytes. This ‘test tube’ system will be used to study the processes of myelination in greater detail. Mr Lee will be testing whether these cells could be transplanted into mice with MS-like illness, to encourage repair and remyelination of damaged brain areas.

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