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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

Proteomics in MS research        

In 2009, Dr Michael Barnett, and colleagues Professor Prineas and Dr Ben Crossett, of the University of Sydney, were awarded a $278,000 project grant from the Trish Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation.  

Professor Prineas has received international acclaim and several major awards for his lifetime of achievements in MS research including in 2009, the MS International Federation’s highest accolade, the Charcot Award. Together with clinician researcher Dr Barnett and proteomics specialist Dr Crossett, the team makes a formidable force for progress in MS research.  

While the cause of MS remains unknown, we do know that an autoimmune response plays an important role in disease development.  Autoimmune responses carried out by inflammatory immune cells from the blood are generally accepted to initiate the cascade of events that lead to an MS lesion in the brain or spinal cord.  

However, in 2008, Professor Prineas and his colleagues, sent significant ripples through the MS research community with their discovery of evidence for sick and dying brain cells that preceded the influx of inflammatory immune cells from the blood. Instead, this early damage is accompanied by activation of the local ‘house-keeping’ microglial cells that clean up damaged cells.  

In order to pursue this unprecedented new avenue in MS research the team has set their sights on identifying the earliest triggers for this damage to myelin. To do this they have turned to high powered ‘proteomics’ technology.  

Proteomics is the study of all the proteins that are activated and deactivated, in a particular biological situation and can amount to studying 1000s of proteins in one go.  

An important and vital step in this project has been the development and refinement of an exciting method to extract proteins from preserved brain tissue, specifically targeting areas within MS lesions.  Dr Barnett has painstakingly developed this highly complex, multi-step new technique. The technique, which will be of use to MS researchers worldwide and has been presented at 4 international meetings including PACTRIMS (Hong Kong 2009) and the Human Proteome Organisation (HUPO) world annual congress (Sydney, 2010).

Combining this technique with Dr Crossett’s proteomics expertise has lead the team to identify over 80 unique proteins in tissue from MS lesions compared to tissue from people with no neurological disease.  This is the first crucial step in a huge undertaking as these proteins must now be individually characterised and studied.   

The work has been recently submitted for publication to the Journal of Proteome Research.  It is anticipated that the identification of the proteins involved in the earliest stages of MS lesions will help provide clues to the causes of MS and may lead to targeted and more effective treatments.

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