Research

Our commitment to research

Over the past 12 years, MSWA has invested more than $17 million to fund research into finding the cause, better treatments and a cure for MS and other neurological conditions.

We believe that local, national, and international research provides hope for people living with a neurological condition and will improve the lives of our Customers and their families.

In recent years, thanks to our investment into research, understanding of MS and neurological conditions has significantly improved. This investment would not be possible without Western Australians supporting our fundraising initiatives which allow MSWA funded researchers to develop new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat neurological conditions.

Here are some highlights of current research in progress with funding from MSWA.

WESTERN AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH TO HELP WITH THE DAMAGE IN EARLY PHASES OF STROKE

MSWA is proud to be funding this important West Australian research that will provide the first effective treatment to minimise the damage that occurs in the early phases of stroke.

The research will improve patient outcomes and may also benefit other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and/or acute brain trauma.

View media footage (credits to 7News).

Bruno Meloni - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH TO HELP WITH THE DAMAGE IN EARLY PHASES OF STROKE

$10.5M NATION-WIDE COMMITMENT TO MS RESEARCH

As part of last year’s financial allocation, MSWA contributed $2.1m to MS Research Australia (MSRA) to form part of their $10.5m national boost towards multiple sclerosis (MS) research.

CEO Marcus Stafford AM said MSWA is proud to support MSRA’s movements towards finding ground-breaking research results.

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MSWA News

NEWLY DEVELOPED THERAPY COULD PROVIDE A BRIGHT LIGHT FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIANS SUFFERING WITH POOR SLEEP AND FATIGUE

Researchers at Edith Cowan University are investigating the effects of light therapy on fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness in people living with neurological conditions.

The MSWA supported research project will trial specially made glasses, worn for sixty minutes in the morning, which deliver targeted light therapy through the eyes – evaluating their value in improving sleep, reducing fatigue and increasing alertness throughout the day.

Dr Danielle Bartlett, one of the researchers working on the project, said the light glasses had the potential to become a simple and effective form of therapy for many Western Australians living with a neurological condition.

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MSWA ECU light therapy glasses

MSWA FUNDED RESEARCH PROVIDES INSIGHTS ON GRIEF ISSUES FOR MND CAREGIVERS

A national study funded by MSWA via Motor Neurone Disease Research Australia has confirmed the increased risk of prolonged grief, anxiety and depression for caregivers who have lost a loved one to motor neurone disease.

Professor Samar Aoun (Perron Institute and La Trobe University) is the study leader and also the President of the Motor Neurone Disease Association of WA.

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Professor Aoun

RECRUITMENT WELL UNDERWAY FOR TONIC STUDY

The Perron Institute is continuing its recruitment of people with motor neurone disease (MND) for the pilot TONiC study, a project proudly supported by MSWA.

TONiC (Trajectories of Outcome in Neurological Conditions) is examining factors influencing quality of life for people with neurological conditions. It originated in the UK and is the largest study of its kind in the world.

The aim is to improve services for people living with conditions such as MND by identifying quality of life aspects that are important to them, but which may be underestimated by current service provision.

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Perron Institute Sulev Koks and Carolyn Young TO Ni C for MSWA

WHITE BLOOD CELLS MAY PROVIDE AN INSIGHT AS TO HOW MS PROGRESSES

A current study into white blood cells known as ‘B Lymphocytes’ is giving Professor Prue Hart and her team of researchers at the Telethon Kids Institute more clues into how MS progresses, in a project funded by MSWA.

Professor Hart’s previous studies have found that the use of narrowband UVB treatment is effective in delaying the development of MS in a subset of high-risk individuals. Now Professor Hart and researchers Dr Stephanie Trend and Dr Jonatan Leffler are trying to discover which cells may be pathogenic and associated with the worsening of MS.

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Prue Hart 2

BRAIN PLASTICITY RESEARCH UPDATE

Senior Research Fellow Associate Professor Jenny Rodger, Perron Institute

Understanding how brain stimulation affects brain circuits is a major focus for a Perron Institute research team.

Senior Research Fellow Associate Professor Jenny Rodger heads the Institute’s Brain Plasticity Research group and is currently in her third year of MSWA funding.

The fundamental research component of their work is currently centred on discovering how brain plasticity affects the way the different parts of the brain interact with each other.

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MSWA funded researcher Jenny Rodger

Neuroprotective treatment for stroke patients proving promising

Adjunct Associate Professor Bruno Meloni, Head of Stroke Laboratory Research at the Perron Institute and Clinical Professor Neville Knuckey, Head of Stroke Research

MSWA is proud to once again contribute funding to the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science in 2020. $85 000 has been provided by MSWA to the Institute to support their studies into a potential neuroprotective treatment for people following a stroke, one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide.

Further study and clinical trials are required but encouraging pre-clinical results suggest a novel peptide R18 could reduce stroke damage by up to 70 per cent if administered early.

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Bruno Meloni and Neville Knuckey Stroke research Perron Institute

New research to uncover links between MS, red meat and omega 3s

Senior Research Fellow Dr Lucinda Black

MSWA has allocated further funding to an important Curtin University study investigating links between MS and diet, with a new focus on how red meat and omega-3 fatty acids impact early progression of the disease.

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MSWA funded researcher Lucinda Black

UNCOVERING A LINK BETWEEN GUT HEALTH AND NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES

A new study by the Perron Institute and Murdoch University will investigate the link between gut bacteria and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s. The study, funded by MSWA, specially aims to reveal how gut bacteria could be resulting in toxic neurological effects and impacting the progression of PD.

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MSWA RESEARCH UNCOVERING A LINK BETWEEN GUT HEALTH AND NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES

MSWA adds Western Australian institution ECU to its list of local research partnerships

Professor Moira Sim, Edith Cowan University

MSWA is proud to continue its focus on funding unique, outcomes-driven research projects locally, nationally and globally. This year, for the first time, MSWA adds Western Australian institution, Edith Cowan University, to its list of local research partnerships.

As part of this partnership, MSWA will fund two ECU research projects which will identify the best ways to personalise treatment for individuals living with a neurological condition.

This research aims to develop a systematic profile of people with MS, Stroke, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

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Marcus and Moira

MSWA funds motor neurone disease (MND) research

Dr Sarah Rea

MSWA funded researcher Dr Sarah Rea is working towards a strategy for sporadic cases of MND, a life-limiting neurological condition with no known treatment or cure.

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Dr Rea

Advocating for a palliative approach to care for MND family carers before and after bereavement

Professor Samar Aoun

MSWA is proud to fund Professor Samar Aoun’s latest neurological research into the current support systems available for those who have lost a loved one to Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

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Professor Aoun

Seeking a biomarker of MS activity

Professor Allan Kermode, Head of Demyelinating Diseases Research at The Perron Institute

People living with MS respond to treatments in very different ways. For the treating clinician, it’s important to make an early assessment of a treatment’s effectiveness.

Available assessment methods such as MRI’s or monitoring of symptoms are time-consuming and expensive. A project led by Professor Allan Kermode of the Perron Institute is looking into the potential of using neurofilament light (NfL), as a biomarker of MS activity. They are hoping to develop a simple blood test to use for precise, timely assessment of a patient’s response to their treatment, and possibly as an early marker for relapse, for MS.

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Perron Institute 011 Clinical Professor Allan Kermode

Boosting research into Motor Neurone Disease

A $200,000 donation from MSWA is funding two grants which will support two projects. One is research into proteins linked to the progression of motor neurone disease (MND) and the second is funding a ground-breaking national study into the needs of carers and families of people experiencing end-of-life care and bereavement.

These grants are MSWA’s first funding allocation to research into MND (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS).

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Light therapy for early MS cases

Professor Prue Hart, Telethon Kids Institute

In a world-first, a Perth Professor has delayed the development of MS in high-risk individuals using narrowband UVB treatment, used to treat the skin condition psoriasis. A small trial conducted by Professor Prue Hart found that in 3 out of 10 people, with a single episode of MS who were treated with UVB, the progression of their MS was halted.

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Prue Hart 2

Understanding how the brain can repair itself

Associate Professor Jenny Rodger, Perron Institute

How the brain works has intrigued Associate Professor Jenny Rodger for almost 30 years, with a lot of her work focusing on brain plasticity – the ability of the brain to change throughout someone’s life by rewiring or modifying neural connections.

Associate Professor Rodger has joined the research team at Western Australia’s Perron Institute, thanks to $1 million funding, over 4 years, from MSWA.

MSWA0646 Jenny Lab 113 Rv1 Wall Blur edited

“I’ve always been interested in the way the brain works. For me it’s not about how someone feels but what happens inside their brain to make them feel or act the way they do. That for me is more important and that’s where brain plasticity and brain stimulation come in,” said Associate Professor Rodger.

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Protecting the brain after a stroke

Adjunct Associate Professor Bruno Meloni and Clinical Professor Neville Knuckey, Perron Institute.

MSWA-provided one off funding to further this exciting research which is assessing the effectiveness of the peptide R18D in a stroke model.

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Proving links between diet and MS

Many people who are newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) are keen to know if a change of diet can help reduce their symptoms and/or improve their health outcomes.

At present there is no reliable evidence linking diet and the onset and or progression of MS after diagnosis. Dr Lucinda Black, Senior Research Fellow at Curtin University, investigated perceptions of diet and MS amongst people newly diagnosed with MS. That research was published last year in a paper entitled Dietary responses to a multiple sclerosis diagnosis: a qualitative study.

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Other research

Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for MS, Dr Marzena Pedrini

The research by Dr Marzena Pedrini from The Western Australian Neuroscience Research Institute is investigating whether rebooting the immune system will turn off the overactive immune activity which can reduce inflammation and prevent MS relapses.

Enhancing balance and gait in patients with Multiple Sclerosis, Professor Soumya Ghosh

MSWA is supporting this WA based project by Professor Soumya Ghosh with both an incubator grant and two years top up funding.

This study is evaluating whether combining non-invasive brain stimulation, using transcranial direct current stimulation, with balance therapy improves mobility and independence in MS patients who have a balance and/or walking impairment.

Genetic variation in the Esptein-Barr Virus (EBV), Professor David Nolan and Dr Monika Tschochner

This WA research by Professor David Nolan and Dr Monika Tschochner explores new evidence of genetic vulnerability that may contribute to the role that EBV plays in MS Risk.

Rewiring the brain and cognitive rehabilitation, Dr Michelle Byrne

Dr Michelle Byrne, the Head of the Clinical Psychology Unit, Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders at The University for Western Australia’s research focussed on evaluating computerised cognitive retraining programs was effective in improving cognitive function in people with MS.

To find out more about our investment in research, or our locally funded research programs, contact:

Libby Cassidy - MSWA Brand & Communications Manager
M 0424 136 560
E libby.cassidy@mswa.org.au