All treatments for MS come with potential side effects as well as benefits. By dampening the immune response to reduce brain inflammation, one of the downsides of these medications is that the risk of infection is increased. Another issue with MS treatment is that it is difficult to know whether a medication is working or not until someone has a relapse.
Everyone responds to MS medications differently, so an important research goal is to devise a method for early identification of response to treatments: both suppression of MS activity, and infection.
In this project Professor Tscharke and his team are looking at people treated with the disease modifying therapy, cladribine. This treatment works by temporarily reducing several cell types in the immune system. Professor Tscharke will analyse RNA in the blood of people with relapsing remitting MS treated with cladribine. RNA is genetic material made by the DNA in cells, and it shows how these cells are responding. Viruses and bacteria also make RNA, so by looking at specific RNAs in people’s blood, this group will be able to simultaneously track how the immune system is functioning and the presence of infections.
Professor Tscharke and his team have successfully recruited people with MS on cladribine and people without MS and collected all blood samples for analysis. The team are currently analysing the RNA in these samples to track how the immune system is functioning and to detect the presence of infections.
The team are also scoping analysis of proteins in the samples, which could further inform how cladribine treatment works and if it is associated with infections and reactivation of viruses.
This study takes a novel approach to pave the way for better methods to analyse RNA in MS studies. Importantly, it will determine whether there are increased levels of bacterial and viral infection present in response to cladribine therapy and aims to identify failure of therapy for an individual long before this results in disease relapse.
Updated: 31 March 2023
Updated: 21 January, 2020
Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.
Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.
Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.