Funding grant for MS drug research

Associate Professor Anthony Don, Head of the Lipid Metabolism and Neurochemistry Laboratory at the Centenary Institute has received a funding grant of $115,000 from MS Research Australia.

This grant is to investigate and develop drugs that can better treat multiple sclerosis (MS).

“Current treatments for MS are limited to immunosuppressive drugs that suppress autoimmunity and inflammation,” says Associate Professor Don.

“There is a pressing need for a new approach – for an effective drug that can both protect existing myelin and stimulate myelin repair, as this will open up the possibility for functional recovery in people with MS.

“This grant supports a project operating at the very forefront of MS research and that could lead to the development of a new therapeutic approach to improve outcomes for people with MS.”

The project

Associate Professor Don will be investigating a group of drugs known as sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor agonists (S1Ps), which mimic the signals produced by the naturally occurring hormone-like molecule sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) in the body.

“Our current research suggests that S1P is essential in myelin regeneration,” he explains.

“We will be determining if these S1P enhancing drugs are indeed myelin protective, if they promote the formation of myelin and the processes by which this may happen.”

Dr Julia Morahan, Head of Research, MS Research Australia adds: “This innovative research proposal addresses the urgent need for therapies to stimulate myelin repair in MS.

“While remyelination or myelin repair is important for all types of MS, it is extremely important in tackling the lack of treatment options for those people with progressive MS.

“We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this study.”

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