3 Feb 2021

MS Research Australia offers vital funding for new treatments

L-R: Dr Mastura Monif, A/Prof Anneke van der Walt, Dr Lisa Grech
Three Monash Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences researchers - Dr Mastura Monif, Associate Professor Anneke Van Der Walt (both in Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School) and Dr Lisa Grech (Department of Medicine, Monash Health) - have received funding grants as part of MS Research Australia’s $2.9M funding boost, which will help uncover new ways to investigate, manage and treat multiple sclerosis (MS). See more about their grants below.

MS is a complex condition of the central nervous system, interfering with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It affects over 25,600 people in Australia.

Dr Mastura Monif, Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School

Dr Mastura Monif is looking at the role of a receptor on an immune cell type called monocytes to see if it could be a new therapeutic target in MS.

Grant type: Project grant with a total funding of $220,000

"The most common type of MS is relapsing-remitting (RRMS) where new symptoms occur in isolated attacks (flare) which can lead to permanent neurological deficits. MS generally affects those in their early 30’s and 40’s and therefore the lifelong burden of disease can be very devastating. This study looks at the peripheral immune system and in particular the contribution of innate immune cells, monocytes, to MS relapse. We will be measuring a myriad of inflammatory markers at the time of MS relapse versus remission. Our hope is that data gathered from this study would improve our understanding of the cellular and molecular pathogenesis of MS relapse. The results could also provide possible biomarkers of disease and eventually even lead to better targeted therapies for MS flare. We are grateful to MS Research Australia for supporting our research endeavours", said Dr Monif.

Dr Lisa Grech, Department of Medicine, Monash Health

Dr Lisa Grech is researching depression in MS, exploring the detection and treatment of depression through healthcare services.

Grant type: Fellowship grant with a total funding of $165,000

Speaking about the impact of this study, Dr Lisa says, “depression occurs in approximately 50% of people with MS, yet often goes undetected or insufficiently treated, having a substantial impact on quality of life. This fellowship will allow the implementation of the next project phase to improve this. This research program will improve healthcare services supports for people with MS but also has the potential to translate to improvements in the detection and management of depression in other chronic diseases.”

Associate Professor Anneke Van Der Walt, Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School

Associate Professor Anneke Van Der Walt is testing the level of SARS-COV2 antibody in people undergoing treatment for MS during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant type: Incubator grant with a total funding of $25,000

To see the full list of all grant recipients, visit the MS Research Australia website.

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