Polyunsaturated fatty acids and MS


Dr Lucinda Black

Curtin University, WA

| Causes and Prevention | Social And Applied Research | Project | 2021 | Investigator Led Research |


Although nutritional factors have long been of interest in MS, links between diet and MS remain clear. There is some evidence that higher intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (such as those in oily fish and fish oil supplements) may reduce the risk of developing MS and may slow disease progression; however, to date the evidence has been inconclusive.

To investigate whether higher intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may reduce the risk of MS onset and progression, Professor Lucinda Black’s team will measure polyunsaturated fatty acids in blood samples from MS studies in both Australia and the United States, and link these to MS disease outcomes. The study team will utilise existing research studies such as the MS Sunshine study, AusImmune study and AusLong studies to strengthen study outcomes and gain more extensive information. The impact of this research may be substantial since dietary changes, including changes in food choices and nutrient supplementations, are lifestyle practices open to modification.

Project Outcomes

In 2021, Professor Black’s research faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting various studies. However, there has been significant progress since then. Fatty acid profiling in blood samples from the MS Sunshine Study has been completed, and serum neurofilament light chain in blood samples from the AusLong studies has been measured.

Several manuscripts are being prepared, which are exploring the links between blood levels of PUFAs and MS risk using data from the MS Sunshine Study, as well as links between PUFAs and disease progression using longitudinal data from the AusLong studies. Steady progress on this project has been made, with further updates to follow.

Updated: 31 March 2023

Updated: 19 January, 2021

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

  • Project Grant

Total Funding

  • $160,000


  • 2 years

Funding Partner

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Associate Professor Anthony DonAssociate Professor Anne Breustle

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Polyunsaturated fatty acids and MS