17 Nov 2021

MS Australia incubator grant for investigating effect of pregnancy on MS onset

L-R: Dr Michael Zhong, Ms Maria (Pia) Campagna and Dr Vilija
have won an MS Australia incubator grant
Congratulations to Dr Michael Zhong, Dr Vilija Jokubaitis and Ms Maria (Pia) Campagna on the award of an incubator grant of $25,000 from MS Australia for their research project, 'The effect of foetal cells in maternal blood on MS during pregnancy'. Dr Zhong is a Neuroimmunology Fellow at the Alfred, and both he and Ms Campagna are PhD students in Dr Vilija Jokubaitis's group. Dr Zhong is leading the research, and Ms Campagna and Dr Jokubaitis are co-investigators.

From their MS Australia project description, they write:

In women with MS, we have found that pregnancy delays time to symptom onset, slows biological ageing, and protects against disability accumulation. However, the mechanisms underlying these long-term effects of pregnancy on MS outcomes are not well understood.

One possible mechanism is foetal microchimaerism (FMC), which is the presence and effect of foetal cells in the maternal blood or other tissues. Foetal cells enter the maternal blood throughout pregnancy and can remain detectable for decades thereafter. FMC may foster immune tolerance that may be beneficial in autoimmune diseases such as MS, and this could help explain the disparity in MS outcomes between women, and between sexes.

This research therefore aims to establish associations between FMC detected in the blood of women with MS, and their disability and biological ageing.

See detail:  www.msaustralia.org.au/project/the-effect-of-foetal-cells-on-ms-during-pregnancy

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