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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

Predicting MS in children  

Exciting new findings have recently been published by Dr Fabienne Brilot-Turville and Associate Professor Russell Dale, from the University of Sydney and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, in the largest ever followup study of Australian children after a first episode of demyelination.   


Dr Fabienne Brilot-Turville and Associate Professor Russell Dale  

Paediatric MS is considered uncommon, however, it is thought that up to 10% of people with MS either experience their first symptoms or receive a diagnosis in childhood. Demyelination in children can be caused by a number of different conditions, and only a small proportion may turn out to be MS. Therefore, being able to predict which children with demyelination will develop MS, or another form of inflammatory brain disease is crucial to allow early treatment decisions.

Funded by MS Research Australia with the support of the Melbourne MS Angels and initial seed funding from the Trish MS Research Foundation, Dr Brilot-Turville and Associate Professor Dale followed 73 children in New South Wales after their first episode of demyelination. The aim was to study these children for as long as possible, on average around five years, to see how many of them would experience repeated demyelination and progress to a full diagnosis of MS. To date, 14% of the children in the study have been diagnosed with MS.

The researchers studied the immune systems of the children following their first episode of demyelination in order to identify differences in immune system molecules in children who go on to a diagnosis of MS, compared to those children who do not. This project provides a crucial step towards identifying those children who may benefit from early therapy to target their immune systems and prevent further disease progression.

Dr Brilot-Turville and colleagues have published new evidence in the prestigious journal  Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation. They assessed the levels of antibodies that are known to target components of the myelin sheath, in particular a protein known as myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), within blood serum. Children with antibodies against MOG were much more likely to be diagnosed with MS within five years. However, the team also identified that a second subgroup of children with the highest levels of anti-MOG antibodies were not diagnosed with MS, but instead may represent a previously unreported form of demyelinating syndrome. In order to then explore the mechanisms by which the immune system could cause myelin damage, the team examined whether these anti-MOG antibodies were associated with structural changes in cells producing white matter in the brain, and found a loss of the normal skeleton supporting each cell’s structure. These findings have exciting implications for our understanding of the molecules that may cause demyelination in the brain.

This project has achieved remarkable recognition, resulting in six publications so far. These studies are important both for early identification of those children who may be at risk of progressing to MS and predicting future prognosis after an initial episode of demyelination.

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