Characteristics of an atypical form of MS – Balo’s disease

Dr Todd Hardy

Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, NSW

| Causes and Prevention | Epidemiology | Travel Award | 2018 | Investigator Led Research |


With the help of the Ian Ballard Travel Award, Dr Todd Hardy, a neurologist from the Brain and Mind Centre in Sydney, will be travelling to the USA to study Balo’s disease.

Balo’s disease is considered by many neurologists to be a rare variant of MS. In this disease, the immune system damages myelin in the central nervous system, as it does in MS. However, unlike in MS, in Balo’s disease the myelin is lost in distinct circles, which alternate with circles of undamaged tissue, creating an image on an MRI much like a target.

Dr Hardy will collaborate with Dr Oliver Tobin from the world-renowned medical and research centre, the Mayo Clinic, in Minnesota, USA, for two weeks in June. During this time he will work with Dr Tobin to gather data on cases of Balo’s disease using the world’s largest cohort of Balo patients based at the Mayo clinic. He aims to develop a better picture of the characteristics of this disease in comparison with typical MS.

He will collect clinical information such as age, sex, symptoms, number of attacks, and data on the pathology observed in the brains of people with this condition. The pathological data will include MRI scans, lumbar puncture results, and PET images.

Dr Hardy will then compare this information with data from people with MS whose data is contained within the same database at the Mayo Clinic. He is particularly interested in the age attacks began, the attack severity, and the long term disability outcomes for people with Balo’s disease compared to MS. He will also determine what proportion of people with Balo’s disease go on to develop more typical MS.

Progress to Date

Dr Hardy had a successful visit to the Mayo Clinic in the US and was able to collect clinical information on people with Balo’s disease including demographics, symptoms, number of attacks, lesion appearance; and identify cases with specimens for further study. Dr Hardy looked at the severity of attacks and long term disability outcome of people with Balo’s disease and compared them to people with MS. He investigated how many people with Balo’s disease also developed MS as a way to look at the clinical overlap between the two diseases.

Following on from this work, Dr Hardy plans to investigate the acute and long-term outcomes for people with Balo’s disease following a clinical attack. He also aims to understand the pathology of Balo’s disease and other demyelinating diseases including MS.

Dr Hardy is currently preparing a scientific manuscript detailing the results of his findings for submission to a journal. He will also be presenting his research findings at an international conference.

Updated: 31 March 2019

Updated: 01 January, 2018


  • Dr Todd Hardy, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, NSW

Grant Awarded

  • Ian Ballard Travel Award

Total Funding

  • $5,000


  • 1 year

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Characteristics of an atypical form of MS – Balo’s disease