Testing a new drug candidate to prevent nerve damage in MS

Lachlan Rash

Dr Lachlan Rash

University of Queensland, QLD

| Better treatments | Neurobiology | Incubator | 2020 | Investigator Led Research |


Current MS treatments act on the immune system dampening down its response. Of the 14 drugs currently available in Australia only 2 are used for the treatment of progressive MS.

This project directed by Dr Lachlan Rash at the University of Queensland addresses a major unmet need for drugs that protect the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, targeting the underlying mechanisms of progressive MS to prevent nerve degeneration.

In MS, the inflammatory process results in an increase in the acidity in the brain and spinal cord. Acid sensing proteins, such as the acid-sensing ion-channel (ASIC1) are increased in laboratory models of MS. Blocking these with a fairly non-specific chemical blocker called amiloride resulted in a reduction in relapses and nerve damage in laboratory models.

In this project, Dr Rash and his team will examine the effect of a very specific ASIC1 inhibitor, called Hi1a, in a laboratory model of progressive MS. Dr Rash has previously demonstrated that this molecule has a potential protective effect on nerves following stroke, and holds a patent for this molecule for it “neuroprotection” properties. In this project, he will test the drug, as well as versions of the drug modified for improved persistence in the body, on measures of movement in the progressive MS model, compared to amiloride. He will also assess whether nerve damage and immune system activation are reduced in response to the drugs. It is hoped that this will provide neuroprotective effects, but avoid the side effects that occur due to lack of target specificity of amiloride.

If successful, this will provide the first evidence of effectiveness for this potential new drug candidate to protect the brain and spinal cord in progressive MS. This would pave the way to bring this neuroprotective drug candidate to the clinic for progressive MS.

Updated 21 October 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

  • Incubator Grant

Total Funding

  • $25,000


  • 2 years

Funding Partner

Read More

Newsletter subscription

  • Enter your details

Testing a new drug candidate to prevent nerve damage in MS