Mackenzie adds more pieces
to the MS genes puzzle
In 2009 Jason Mackenzie
was awarded a three year PhD scholarship jointly funded by the Trish Multiple
Sclerosis Research Foundation and MS Research Australia. Supervised by Professor Lyn Griffiths at the
Genomics Research Centre, Griffith University, Mr Mackenzie has made excellent
progress on his project investigating differences in gene activity in people
with MS compared to those without MS.
The aim of the research is to pinpoint genes that are involved in the
development of MS, so that new approaches to treatment can be considered.
In his project, Mr
Mackenzie is using state-of-the-art genetic technology to conduct a detailed
analysis of gene expression (which genes are switched on) in people with
MS. There are five gene regions that
have so far been identified as potentially containing genes that increase
susceptibility to MS. These regions are
found on chromosomes 5, 6, 7, 17 and 19.
Mr Mackenzie will be investigating these and other promising new regions
of interest. ‘I have undertaken
laboratory investigations examining the regions of several sex hormone genes,
and also Vitamin D gene regions, for association with Multiple Sclerosis within
an Australian population,’ reported Mr Mackenzie. ‘I’m getting very interesting
results that may have implications for some MS sufferers.’
Mr Mackenzie has also
gained expertise that will be invaluable in the next stage of his PhD project
by spending time learning skills from international experts in MS. ‘I have spent time with the director of the
Brain Bank in the Netherlands learning how to classify and stage the different
lesion types in MS affected brain samples, and interpret the clinical data
associated with each sample,’ explained Mr Mackenzie.
Mr Mackenzie has presented
his promising research findings at three national MS conferences and has
submitted a scientific paper for publication.