Investigating the role of neutrophils in MS

Dr Stephanie Trend

Telethon Kids Institute and Perron Institute

| Causes and Prevention | Immunology | Incubator | 2022 | Investigator Led Research |


MS is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking the body. What causes this mistake in unclear, but what is known is that it probably involves both B and T cells, two types of immune cells. However, the role of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) is unknown.

The research team has recently shown that B cells might be activated by proteins produced by neutrophils. The team will now investigate whether there is any link between the two cell types in people with early MS. If neutrophils are found to be important in triggering B cells in MS, then new drugs might be developed to target them in the future. 

Project Outcomes

Dr Stephanie Trend and her team have made significant progress in investigating the relationship between neutrophils and B cells in people with MS. They successfully recruited more participants than planned, with 16 individuals with MS compared to the projected 10. The data generated from the analysis of blood neutrophils has undergone quality control checks and is being combined with demographic and clinical data for further analysis.  

Using cutting-edge techniques, the researchers have identified distinct sub-populations of neutrophils in individuals with MS, which has highlighted differences with age and sex-matched people living without MS. They are now working on validating these findings in independent samples.  

The researchers have also collected and stored B cell samples. They plan to study these samples alongside neutrophil data with the help of Dr. Christian Tjiam from Telethon Kids Institute. The B cell analysis will be completed during 2023, enabling comparisons with neutrophil data.  

Dr. Stephanie Trend and her team have trained students and junior scientists in data collection and analysis. Although they're still analysing the data, they've already gained insights into how certain proteins on cell surfaces can be used to study neutrophils. They've also noticed differences in activation markers between neutrophils from people with and without MS. Completing the B cell analysis and correlating it with neutrophil data will pave the way for new research ideas. 

Updated: 31 March 2023

Updated: 14 February, 2022

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

  • Incubator Grant

Total Funding

  • $24,073


  • 1 year

Funding Partner

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Associate Professor Yasmine Probst

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Investigating the role of neutrophils in MS