Investigation of motorneuron behaviour in multiple sclerosis

Dr Christopher Latella

Edith Cowan University, WA

| Causes and Prevention | Neurobiology | Incubator | 2023 | Investigator Led Research |


Muscle weakness is common in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Problems with spinal nerves that activate limb muscles have previously been identified. They fire less and cause weaker muscle contractions. Special properties of these nerve cells (persistent inward currents) help them fire and depend on the release of hormones such as serotonin and noradrenaline in the spinal cord.  

Recent evidence suggests a problem with serotonin and noradrenaline in the nervous system of people with MS, but it is not known if the spinal motor nerve cells are also affected.  

This project will record the electrical activity of leg muscles and decode these signals to work out the firing of spinal motor nerves during voluntary muscle contractions. The patterns of firing will help determine whether the persistent inward currents are working properly.  

Specifically, Dr Latella will compare the firing of motor nerve cells of people with MS to people without MS, and then, investigate whether changes in the properties of the motor nerve cells influence performance of tasks like walking and standing in people living with MS. The findings are expected to help understand whether problems with serotonin and noradrenaline in the nervous system contribute to muscle weakness in MS. 

Updated: 22 February, 2023

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


Total Funding

  • $25,000


  • 1 year – starting 2023

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Investigation of motorneuron behaviour in multiple sclerosis