Developing cellular therapy to treat MS

Professor Trevor Kilpatrick

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, VIC

| Better treatments | Immunology | Project | 2020 | Investigator Led Research |


MS is caused when the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulating coating on nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord. Currently it is treated with drugs that target certain immune cells, but these therapies are only partially effective and are generally ineffective in treating progressive disease.

In this innovative project, Professor Trevor Kilpatrick and his team are investigating ways to manipulate the immune system. The immune system has a series of complex signals that either tell the immune system to attack, or tell it to calm any inflammation. Professor Kilpatrick and his team are planning to collect the cells in the blood that send some of these signals and trick them into sending calming signals. He’ll then reinject them back into the body. This approach could be very effective as it targets key initiating events in MS. It could treat all disease stages as the targeted cells are mobile and can move to the site of damage in MS to inhibit disease-causing immune cells, otherwise hidden from current drug therapies.

The benefits of this approach will first be studied in laboratory models of MS. Professor Kilpatrick will also harvest these cells from people with and without MS and, using the same methods as employed for the laboratory models, determine whether they can be induced to block disease promoting activities of the immune cells in the laboratory. The cells that are being focused on are already the subject of intense study, including in early phase clinical trials for treatment of other diseases, so the work will be translatable to clinical trials in people with MS.

Updated 22 January 2020

Updated: 21 January, 2020

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

  • $265,629


  • 3 years

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Developing cellular therapy to treat MS