Understanding the immunological role of EBV in MS

Professor Allan Kermode

University of Western Australia, WA

| Causes and Prevention | Epidemiology | Genetics | Immunology | Project | 2013 | Investigator Led Research |


One environmental factor that is associated with risk of MS is infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This project will investigate the relationship between EBV and MS in a large population of around 800 people with MS in the Perth Demyelinating Disease Database (PDDD). The project will focus on the immune response to EBV infection, and how this may be influenced by other factors that are known to increase risk of MS such as genetic make-up and early life sunlight exposure.

This project is part of a much larger comprehensive project that aims to understand whether these factors influence the clinical characteristics of MS, the type of MS and the disease activity as seen in MRI scans.

This project will characterise the immune systems of people with active and inactive MS, to identify differences B and T immune cell activity, in order to identify immune factors that may be specifically involved in disease activity. This information will be used to develop a detailed profile of MS that can be used in disease diagnosis and monitoring.

Progress to Date

Dr Kermode’s project is utilising a number of genetic and immunological analysis techniques to characterise the immune activity of people at different stages of MS.

Over the course of the year the team has been developing and optimising the experimental procedures required to measure the properties of different types of immune cells in people with MS. A technique called flow cytometry was used to quantify the levels of many different types of immune cells including T cells, T helper cells, and B cells. Subsequent work in 2014 aims to complete the analyses of immune cells in people with MS, and to correlate these with the genetics of the patients.

Professor Kermode’s work aims to investigate whether specific immune  cells may interact with the proteins found in different viral strains and how this might relate to mistaken recognition and immune responses to ‘self’ in different disease stages. Additional analyses will identify the influence of Vitamin D levels on the balance of immune cell levels in the blood, and its influence of immune cell activation.

Updated: 30 June 2014

Updated: 06 January, 2013



Grant Awarded

  •  Project Grant

Total Funding

  • $110,000


  • 1 year over 2013

Funding Partner

Read More

Newsletter subscription

  • Enter your details

Understanding the immunological role of EBV in MS