Trish Foundation’s Research Funds Doubled
The Foundation announced in 2007 the Australian MS Genetics Consortium, known as AusGene had received a special Linkage Grant from the Department of Education, Science and Training and the Australian Research Council (ARC). The Trish Foundation’s contribution of $200,000 was matched, along with the contribution by the John T Reid Charitable Trusts and the research facilitator, MSRA enabling a budget of over A$1million to be established.
“This grant, and the research opportunities that it opens up, would not have happened without the large donation from the Trish Foundation and the generosity and efforts of the many people who work so hard in Trish's memory.”
“The ARC Linkage Grant cements the national collaboration across Australia and provides us with the very real prospect of discovering new genes that contribute to MS and, through this, providing new insights into the cause of the disease and pathways towards more effective treatments. The research community is deeply indebted to the Trish Foundation."
“The project is the best chance we’ve ever had for discovering new genetic factors in the causes of MS. It’s also possible that different genetic factors are at work in MS in Australia and we can only discover those by comparing results from elsewhere.”
“We’re looking for genes which cause the disease and influence the clinical course and severity or rate of progression. No one is looking at these nuances overseas. New knowledge from this gene mapping project will benefit other areas of MS research including epidemiology, immunology and neurobiology.”
– Professor Graeme Stewart, University of Sydney’s Professor of Medicine and Director of Clinical Immunology at Westmead Hospital
No less than eight Australian research institutions, coordinated by the University of Melbourne and the Westmead Team collaborated in the biggest Australian genetic experiment ever for any disease. When linked with the overseas MS studies, the international collaboration was the most comprehensive research ever on MS.
The researchers had access to the MS AusGene Bank, one of MSRA’s research platforms. The MS AusGene Bank’s collaborators (together with Melbourne and Westmead) included Flinders University, the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Research Institute, the University of Queensland, Griffith University, Howard Florey Institute, the University of Sydney, the University of Newcastle and the University of Western Australia.
A major difference between the Australian study and international research was Australia’s focus on different courses of MS such as relapsing-remitting MS or the more aggressive primary-progressive MS. The MS AusGene Bank’s sample profiling made this possible.
Australian and New Zealand researchers joined forces, the University of Otago joining the Australian MS Genetics Consortium, which was consequently re-named ‘The ANZgene Consortum’.
With the successful formation of ANZgene came an invitation to join a massive international collaboration, coordinated from Cambridge (UK) and funded by the Wellcome Trust.
People with Primary Progressive MS remained a top priority for recruitment because through the analysis of their DNA identification of genes implicated in this relatively understudied form of MS was possible.