This year, five new incubator grants have been awarded from the February round of applications. Three grants were awarded with funding support from the Trish MS Research Foundation, to Professor Heinrich Körner, Dr Charles Galea, and Dr Ben Crossett. A further two incubator grants were awarded to Dr Diana Dorstyn, and Dr Ché Fornusek.
Professor Heinrich Körner and Professor Bruce Taylor at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research will investigate whether known MS risk genes involved in the Vitamin D pathway may be able to influence the function of T cells in the immune system.
Dr Charles Galea from Monash University is investigating novel compounds that could lead to the development of new therapies for treating MS. Dr Galea’s project will develop methods to identify potential therapeutic compounds in cone snail venom, and test their ability to alter the activity of disease-causing immune cells.
Dr Ben Crossett and Associate Professor Michael Barnett from the University of Sydney have received incubator grant support for state-of-the-art analyses exploring the protein fragments that are displayed on the surface of cells, and comparing these proteins in groups of people with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and people with MS. These proteins are thought to play an important role in the body’s ability to distinguish ‘self’ and ‘non-self’. This regulation of ‘self’ recognition can break down in MS leading to the damaging immune attacks on the central nervous system in in MS and also in NMO.
Dr Diana Dorstyn from the University of Adelaide and colleagues from around Australia are investigating whether vocational skills training could be delivered in an online mode to people with MS. Online training programs are both time- and cost-efficient, and provide an innovative way to overcome current barriers in providing services to assist people MS with in maintaining employment.
The objective of Dr Ché Fornusek’s project is to investigate whether electrical muscle stimulation can assist persons with severe MS to perform exercise. In this trial, Dr Fornusek, from the University of Sydney, will evaluate the benefits of an electrical stimulation cycling exercise program for persons with advanced MS.