Although many risk factors for MS have been identified, the exact causes and triggers for the disease are not yet known. A great deal of research has been dedicated to understanding the mechanisms of lesion formation and the potential external triggers that may underlie MS onset.
Undergraduate student Mr Adam Girardin recently received a MS Research Australia Vacation Scholarship to undertake a ten-week laboratory internship under the supervision of Dr Simon Willis at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, to further study the interaction between gene expression and MS lesions.
In the first phase of this project, Mr Girardin aims to study the early changes in gene activity that are associated with MS lesion formation. He will be using post-mortem brain tissue donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Society Tissue Bank at Imperial College London in the UK. During his scholarship Mr Girardin will be completing a series of experiments, looking to follow-up on earlier work in Dr Willis’ laboratory that identified changes in the way genes are decoded by cells in the brain that may trigger the formation of lesions. The second aim of Mr Girardin’s project is to identify whether any infectious agents are present in the brain tissue samples that may be contributing to MS onset or MS risk, and if so, to better understand how the immune system responds and how this may affect the brain.
Vacation scholarships allow promising young students to kick start their training in research and starts them on a pathway to join the growing ranks of researchers working on the problems of MS. This particular type of research that Mr Girardin will be undertaking, helps to enhance our understanding of MS disease development and could identify genes that may be useful targets for developing new treatments. This type of work is not possible without the generosity of people with MS who have donated their brain to MS Brain Banks around the world.
To find out more about the MS Research Australia Brain Bank, phone 1300 672 265 or register here.