Meet The Researcher

Dr Iain Comerford

University of Adelaide

About
Let’s get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself...
I'm from Glasgow in Scotland but have lived in Australia for more than 15 years. I still have a 100% Glasgow accent though... Apartfrom my research my main interest is marathon running. Aiming for sub 3 hours before I get too old!
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
MS affected quite a few people I knew growing up in Scotland and it was clearly a disease that needed better treatments. Studyingimmunology I felt that it was area in which I could potentially make an important contribution.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
The recent findings showing the causative links between EBV infection and development of MS are very exciting as this potentiallymight lead to ways to much better control the spread of MS in the future. I also think the development of drugs such as natilizumaband fingolimod were major developments as they show that drugs that inhibit cell migration can be effective MS therapeutics andthis bodes well for the approaches that my research will test.
Tell us about your current research project...
I am studying how cells of the immune system are able to migrate into the brain during autoimmune attacks. Normally, these cellsdo not enter the central nervous system in large numbers but during MS there is recruitment of these cells from the blood streaminto the brain. We are trying to understand the molecules that are important for the migration of these cells so that we can betterdesign therapeutics that specifically block the migration of the cells that cause disease in MS.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
The current therapies for MS work to some extent but there is certainly scope for better treatements. We hope that by understandingthe molecular mechanisms of cell migration into the central nervous system in more detail we will be able to create new therapies that have fewer side-effects and are better at preventing symptoms of MS.
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Dr Iain Comerford