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$1.8 million in funding awarded for MS research in 2016

1st March, 2016

In January, MS Research Australia announced the recipients of new research funding for 2016. This year, MS Research Australia awarded a further $1.834 million in research funding across a range of projects, travel awards and people support grants, such as scholarships and fellowships.

This round received our largest ever number of applications and we are proud that the 24 successful projects cover a range of scientific and allied health disciplines to investigate MS from all angles, bringing the total number of investigator-led projects to 47 grants for 2016.

Project grants are awarded to researchers to cover costs towards a specific research project and this year’s recipients will be investigating a number of exciting avenues in MS research.

Professor Bruce Taylor from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research in Tasmania, will be comparing the long term outcomes of people with MS in Australia and New Zealand. Due to government restrictions, many people with MS in New Zealand have not been treated for their MS, while in Australia over 95% of eligible patients with relapsing remitting MS receive treatment. Comparing the two groups will allow Professor Taylor to determine the long term outcomes of treatment for people with MS.

Dr Litza Kiropoulos from the University of Melbourne, is running a clinical trial into cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for treating depression in people with MS. Dr Kiropoulos has developed a specific intervention that aims to help people newly diagnosed with MS.

Lower levels of exposure to parasites, especially helminth worms, has been proposed as one reason why the number of people with autoimmune conditions such as MS is increasing. Dr Sheila Donnelly from the University of Technology in Sydney, was awarded a project grant to investigate the mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon at a molecular level, with the view to potentially one day using ‘worm therapy’ to prevent MS.

Professor Alan Baxter from James Cook University in Queensland and Professor Steve Wilton from Murdoch University in Western Australia both received project grants for research into the genetics of MS. Professor Baxter will be looking at the role that gene networks are playing in the risk of developing MS, while Professor Wilton will be continuing his work using a novel method to block specific genes as a treatment option for MS. The MS Society of WA has provided funding support for Professor Wilton’s project.

Dr Steven Petratos, from Monash University in Victoria, will continue his internationally recognised work into progressive MS. Dr Petratos uses a novel method to block particular molecules that are thought to be involved in nerve fibre damage in the progressive phase of MS. By blocking these molecules it is hoped that damage will be reduced and people with progressive MS will have better clinical outcomes. Dr Petratos’ project has received full funding support from the Trish MS Research Foundation.

For an overview of the new research project summaries, please visit the website.