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.
This is a novel approach, and hopefully will 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 in response to therapy, and aims to identify failure of therapy for an individual long before this results in disease relapse.
While Professor Tscharke and his team’s work has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, they have successfully recruited participants and collected the samples for this analysis. The next stage of this project will involve analysing the RNA in these samples to track how the immune system is functioning and the presence of infections.
Updated: 31 March 2022
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.