The majority of research into MS focuses on the triggers and mechanisms for myelin damage, however less research has taken place into understanding the mechanisms underlying periods of remission. Importantly, the current treatment strategies aim to reduce the ‘bad’ actions of the immune system, with less effort being made at encouraging and increasing the ‘good’ immune processes that allow repair and remission.
Dr Suzanne Hodgkinson and colleagues at the University of NSW have been working towards understanding the role of different types of immune cells and their role in the cycles of relapsing and remitting illness. In particular, microglia are known to interact with the T immune cells (T regulatory cells) that control the autoimmune response. Under Dr Hodgkinson’s supervisor, Mr Wilcox will undertake a vacation scholarship aiming to identify the role of microglia, the immune cell in the brain, in contributing to the remission period of MS. This project will help to increase our understanding of the relapsing-remitting cycle of MS and identify potential new avenues for manipulating the immune system to treat MS relapses.
Mr Wilcox project was expanded to include both microglia and peritoneal macrophages. Mr Wilcox has setup and optimised range of techniques in the laboratory to look at these cell types. Experiments are now underway to investigate the potential interactions of the macrophages with the T regulatory cells within the immune system. This short project has allowed Mr Wilcox to establish techniques within Dr Hodgkinson’s laboratory that were previously unavailable and will allow the team to test a range of hypotheses in future. The project has also developed Mr Wilcox as a new researcher with a range of technical and experimental skills that will now be used to answer questions about the cell interactions within the immune system and the potential use as a treatment.
Updated: 24 April 2015
Updated: 02 January, 2015