Demystifying demyelinating diseases

29 October 2020

MSWA is proud to continue funding the Perron Institute’s Demyelinating Diseases Research group, led by group Director and Clinical Professor Allan Kermode.

Since our last update the group has been active across many areas in 2020, despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, with members working both independently and collaboratively towards shared targets.

In the first seven months of 2020, the group published 12 peer-reviewed papers and a further 12 have been submitted or accepted for publication.

Dr Marzena Fabis-Pedrini, a key member of the group, is an MSWA Research Fellow at the Perron Institute. She is leading research into biomarkers, including neurofilament light chain, to personalise treatment options for people living with multiple sclerosis.

Dr Fabis-Pedrini is also leading studies into the use of quantitative MRI assessment in the management of MS, and the inter-related effects of environment and immunogenetics. Collaborations have been established with Sun Yat-sen University PRC, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and University of California, San Francisco USA to leverage these findings.

Also with funding from MSWA, Dr Stephanie Trend, an MSWA Research Fellow with the Perron Institute, based at the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI), has continued work with the group on a long-term collaborative project led by Professor Kermode and Professor Prue Hart (TKI). The research has been evaluating the effects of UVB phototherapy as a potential new intervention for people diagnosed with clinically isolated syndrome (single episode) in early MS.

Gathering pivotal pilot data generated with MSWA support by Professor Hart’s team, has enabled chief investigator Dr Trend and her team to be awarded a nationally competitive MSRA project grant, which is investigating the role of antibodies and B-cells in MS. This recent work has benefited from a new collaboration with Professors Björn Frendéus and Ingrid Teige and their colleagues at BioInvent in Sweden.

Dr Xiaonan Zhong, neurologist and University of Western Australia PhD scholarship recipient, has also been busy studying T-cell immune targets in immediate post-mortem MS lesions in a collaboration with Murdoch University, the Erasmus Medical Centre Netherlands, and Vanderbilt University USA. The results will be pivotal in determining the key drivers for the development of the MS lesion.

While the work being conducted by each researcher is diverse, it is all scientifically related, with topics strategically designed to interlink.

For more information about MSWA funded research, head to our Commitment to Research page.