Assessing rates and progression of MS in Western Australians

Alexander James Telfer Wood

Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute, WA

| Causes and Prevention | Epidemiology | Genetics | Scholarship | 2012 | Investigator Led Research |


Complex interactions of genes, the environment a person lives in and infection can contribute to the risk of someone acquiring MS. The rates of MS vary around the world and in different geographical locations. A relationship between birth season and the incidence (rate of occurrence) of MS has also been identified, including in Australia.

There is evidence to suggest that these patterns may be due to vitamin D levels which is related to sunlight exposure. However, recent changes in MS rates around the world suggest that further investigation of this relationship in a more current population of Australians with MS is necessary.

Mr Wood will be working with a team of highly experienced neurologists specialising in MS and will use records from the Perth Demyelinating Disease Database and the WA Birth Registry. He will identify the current prevalence and incidence of MS in this Western Australian (WA) population and will investigate any correlations with birth month and season to identify if these factors continue to have an effect in WA.

In this project Mr Wood will also assess the long-term development of brain scan findings known as black holes, which develop from the characteristic inflammatory brain lesions that occur in MS. No studies have yet evaluated how black holes may change over periods exceeding 4 years and whether they play a role in ongoing disease and disability progression. Clinical experience indicates that they may continue changing for 10 years or more.

Approximately 50 patients will be selected for whom there is brain scan data going back over a period of greater than ten years and the scans will be examined to track the changes in lesions over this period.

It is anticipated that this research will help to identify factors which affect the development and progression of MS.

Updated: 30 June 2013

Updated: 02 January, 2012


  • Alexander Wood, Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA


Grant Awarded

  • Vacation Scholarship

Total Funding

  • $10,000


  • 1 year over 2012

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Assessing rates and progression of MS in Western Australians