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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
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Jun 2018
Findings submitted for publication
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New Research Projects commencing 2019 announced

Reprogramming the immune system


Dr Christopher Siatskas is developing new treatments for MS by combining immune regeneration and gene therapy approaches.

Dr Christopher Siatskas, based at Monash University, was awarded a project grant in 2011 supported by the Trish MS Research Foundation. His research aims to do nothing less than permanently eliminate the rogue immune cells which cause the damage in MS. Due to mis-programming at the start of their development in the thymus, these immune cells mistakenly attack myelin proteins in the brain and spinal cord. Dr Siatskas plans to reprogram these cells at this early stage in their life-cycle using gene therapy to stop the autoimmune attack.

Earlier work in this project showed that treatment in the thymus prior to the onset of the disease reduced inflammation and neurological damage. However, testing the approach after clinical symptoms began, as would be the case in humans with MS, slowed symptoms but did not cure disease. Recently, Dr Siatskas completed testing with two different immune target molecules in an attempt to improve the effect on immune cells. While one had only a mild effect, the other was able to suppress disease significantly – after symptoms had begun. 

The most important aspect of the work is that it shows that retraining the immune mechanisms is possible, even once the disease process has begun - the ideal model for the treatment situation seen in people with MS. It has also provided Dr Siatskas and his team with a platform to examine a range of immune target molecules with his gene therapy approach.

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