Blood platelets as a novel therapeutic target for MS


Dr Jacqueline Orian

La Trobe University, VIC

| Better treatments | Immunology | Project | 2021 | Investigator Led Research |


A number of processes occur in MS, including inflammation and neurodegeneration or nerve loss. While inflammation is reasonably well understood and treatable with current drugs, neurodegeneration is more complex, poorly understood and only responds to treatments in a very limited manner. Neurodegeneration is also thought to underlie progression of the disease. The burning question, therefore, is: what is the cause of nerve loss?

Recent scientific evidence shows that blood particles known as ‘platelets’ play an important role in autoimmune diseases such as MS. Platelets are small cell fragments that are important in blood clotting, but also have wider functions, including the capacity to exacerbate inflammation in laboratory models of MS.

Dr Orian’s own research has shown that the role of platelets goes even further and that these particles are actually key drivers of the autoimmune process and that platelets might be responsible for both inflammation and neurodegeneration. They suspect that platelets, rather than immune cells, cause nerve loss and that targeting platelets in early disease may slow down some of the degeneration of nerves in MS thereby potentially delaying progressive MS.

The overarching aim of this proposal is to demonstrate that platelet-targeting is both anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective in MS, using a novel platelet-targeting drug. This will provide proof-of-concept for the potential of platelet-targeting therapies to treat MS.

Updated 20 January 2021

Updated: 19 January, 2021

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years


Grant Awarded

  • Project Grant

Total Funding

  • $240,000


  • 3 years

Funding Partner

  • A62 Inner Wheel District
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Blood platelets as a novel therapeutic target for MS