What is triggering immune reactions in people with MS?

Dr Stephanie Trend

The University of Western Australia, WA

| Causes and Prevention | Immunology | Project | 2024 | Investigator Led Research |


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition where a person's immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord. Robust evidence shows that a specific type of immune cell, known as B cells, are important to cause attacks of MS. B cells tend to respond to specific targets like viruses or bacteria to cause immune responses, but can also react to our own body, resulting in autoimmune disease.

One infection that is known to be important for the development of MS is Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), which can cause glandular fever. B cells can have several essential functions, including producing antibodies. Antibodies are small proteins that recognise and bind to specific targets to direct other immune cells in how to respond to infections.

This project involves using laboratory-made proteins that mimic natural antibodies, to identify and study the targets for B cells, including parts of EBV. Identifying the specific targets recognised by B cells in MS may help to diagnose the disease, identify those at higher risk of MS, and develop targeted therapies to be used in future.

Updated: 22 January, 2024

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


Dr Stephanie Trend


  • Dr Tao Wang
  • Professor Martyn French
  • Professor Allan Kermode
  • Dr Jonatan Leffler

Total Funding

  • $249,530


  • 3 years – starting 2024

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What is triggering immune reactions in people with MS?